Durham University Gospel Choir – Coming alive through music 

Georgia Hubbard

Tell us about the Gospel Choir 

We began life in 2008 as a small group of singers busking on the streets of Durham. We’ve since grown to a choir of 30 students who love nothing more than to sing together, bringing joy to our audiences. This year, our aims have been to increase the confidence of our choir as individual musicians, to teach our audiences about the faith-based and anthropological heritage of the Gospel genre, and to build long-lasting relationships with other student-led Durham University music groups. The choir was founded to bring a different flavour to Durham, which we are told we have certainly done! We perform a diverse range of Christian worship songs, ancient African spirituals, more modern pop, and occasionally invite audiences to sing with us during performances. Gospel Choir is truly a family who want to see each other come alive through music.   

What has been the Gospel Choir’s greatest achievement? 

One of our proudest achievements was very recent – in April this year we were invited to perform in Durham Cathedral as an opening act for pop icon Heather Small. A technical delay at the last minute meant we didn’t get to open the show in the end, but we took the opportunity to take our energy and smiles, and perform outside the Cathedral to the crowds as they waited to go in.  

We are also proud that we got through to the finals of University Gospel Choir of the Year 2024 in Croydon. This is always a huge highlight of our choir calendar, as we spend time with and draw inspiration from other choirs around the UK who have a wide variety of values, visions, and sounds. 
We received a lovely review following our performance: “Durham Gospel Choirgave a stunning close to the show, with beautiful tonal harmonies and arrangements, including some impressive a cappella work that set them apart from the rest of the choirs.” 

Photo credit for Never Give Up – Jan Panke

Performing isn’t everything we do  

While performing is undoubtedly important to us, it doesn’t represent everything about us. We’ve participated in a range of different events this year, including several gospel-style workshops with Hild Bede Chapel Choir before singing together for their Sunday services. This has entailed teaching lyrics and melodies to the Chapel Choir without sheet music, as well as belting workshops that train choir members to produce that signature powerful and soulful gospel sound. 

We also like to help raise money for good causes, and this year our charity is Durham’s leading youth homelessness charity, Moving On. During a ‘Busk and Bake’ event in November in collaboration with St Mary’s Bake Society, we raised more than £200 for Moving On, while the proceeds of all programmes sold for our Michaelmas Showcase were also donated. 

Tell us about the diversity that makes up the Choir? 

Many Gospel Choir members are involved in jazz bands, pop bands, and often sing or play individually at events and open mic nights. There is also a significant number of choir members who are involved in church worship here in Durham and around the world. Some have experience in musical theatre, others have been more classically trained, and others still have grown up singing in church choirs. We are brought together by the sheer joy we have when we sing together; for some this is an act of worship, and for many others in our multi-worldview choir, the choir remains a relaxed and welcoming space.  

Because Gospel music was born in African American communities, we as a choir are intentional about the ethnically diverse student community that we represent. Gospel Choir is an increasingly diverse and welcoming student community, with space for those of non-white heritage and backgrounds to flourish. 

When can we next hear you perform? 

We’re very active on Facebook and Instagram, where we advertise all events open to the public, circulate ticket links, and give our followers a glimpse into our rehearsals and behind-the-scenes.  

We’re next performing in ‘Fairytales’ the annual Durham Student Music Cathedral Concert on Friday 31 May. Get your tickets for here

We’re also performing at Ecofest in Neville’s Cross on Sunday 16 June.

There will be further choir showcases coming up later this year. Keep an eye out for more information! 

Discover more

Radio interview between Gilly Hope (BBC Radio Newcastle), Georgie and Yikima ahead of the University Gospel Choir of the Year competition (which took place on Saturday 16 March). Listen here

Rehearsing ‘You’ve Got the Love’ – Florence and the Machine

Georgia Hubbard

Hi, I'm Georgie, a 2nd year undergraduate, Liberal Arts student from St Mary’s College.

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