This evening I took on some overtime work at the last minute and made my way over to Lackey Chapel, the nondenominational worship space at Coastal Carolina University. Inside the chapel was a woman by the name of Gloria Gaynor. Wait, who? Okay, I am going to ask you to go back to the 1970’s. Do you remember the disco hit “I Will Survive”? Well, Gloria Gaynor is the artist of that famous track.
Earlier she had toured campus but she wanted to make one more stop to cap off the day. That stop was to Lackey Chapel to watch our Coastal Carolina University Gospel Choir practice/perform. Before the group started to sing I approached her and asked if I could take a photo. She kindly obliged. The choir then started to perform as Gloria sat several rows back. After the Coastal students had performed a few numbers, Gaynor rose to her feet and went up to the podium to say a few words.
With all attention on her, Gloria told the students that they had beautiful voices. She then talked about the importance of singing and the importance of faith. After her brief address, she invited the crowd to ask questions. During the Q&A, Gloria discussed such topics as her rise to fame, the struggle she faced deciding whether to sing secular or spiritual music, and premarital sex. After she concluded up at the podium, the delighted students gathered around her for a big group photo.
It was cool seeing a former star such as Gloria Gaynor tonight but to be honest, I was more impressed with our Coastal students. In my life I had never really been exposed much to gospel music, let alone a live gospel choir. At a couple events this year I had the pleasure of listening to the CCU Gospel Choir perform but it was either in a big venue or outdoors. To stand among them today in the small Lackey Chapel and hear them absolutely belt out a few songs was a great experience.
What I noticed right away was just the joy they sing with. Even if you can’t understand one lyric they are singing (even though the words come out crystal clear) the beautiful melody of love and happiness that is so obvious in their voices make your ears rejoice. The clapping and swaying adds power and enthusiasm. The mile-wide smiles that open up on the faces of the students while they perform are contagious. As I stood there watching and listening I said to myself in a satisfied and approving manner, “So this is gospel music.”
What I got tonight was something that I definitely couldn’t get at the University of Montana. Sorry Gloria, I am talking about the gospel choir. The passion I heard and felt in that chapel was special. I felt bad waltzing through the doors with a camera but I thank the choir and Ms. Gaynor for accepting me. This evening was definitely an experience. Don’t Blink.