Voices of Soul members put their hearts and souls into gospel performance

Voices of Soul invited campus and community members to experience a variety of gospel music on Aplril 28 In a positive and inclusive performance, the Voices of Soul performed both choral and R&B-style gospel music.


Tate Hildyard

The University of Iowa Gospel Choir performs in the Iowa Memorial Union on Sunday, April 28, 2019.

Haley Triem, Arts Reporter

Bright lights in purples, greens, and golds shine on both the stage and the audience. The rainbow of vibrant colors reflects the overall atmosphere of the room: cheerful and bursting with energy. Singers dressed in white and denim rock and clap as they sing R&B and traditional gospel music to a lively audience.

On April 28 at 7:30 p.m. in the IMU Second-Floor Ballroom, the University of Iowa group Voices of Soul performed its spring gospel concert.

“Voices of Soul is a gospel choir here on campus that has been around for decades,” UI junior and gospel member Jacob Thompson said in an email to The Daily Iowan. “It is open to anyone on campus, and we primarily sing gospel songs and perform around the Iowa City [and] Coralville area. We help uplift the spirits of those whom we perform for and have a lot of fun doing it.”

The Voices of Soul is known for its energetic songs and crowd-inclusive performances.

“Our songs and energy are most definitely what defines our group,” UI freshman Sierra Jones said in an email to the DI. “Not only are the songs good to begin with, we really do a good job of adding our own flavor and personal feelings to them. We welcome everyone in; we love new people. The more people the better.”

While most gospel music is associated with religion, the Voices of Soul members do not necessarily need to practice a specific faith in order to participate.

“The majority of our members are religious, but we do not focus directly on the faith aspect,” UI freshman Britney Clingan said in an email to the DI. “We sing music that praises God, but overall, if you listen to the lyrics, it focuses on how life is good and that there’s hope out there. It’s upbeat and beautiful and reminds people to smile.”

The concert had a variety of songs, some of which were traditional gospel that resembled powerful choral music, while other pieces leaned toward the R&B and pop genre. The variety not only surprised the audience but current members as well.

“For our concert, we’re performing 11 songs,” Clingan said. “I think a lot of people will be surprised by how some of our pieces resemble popular songs in R&B and pop. When I first heard some of our songs, I had to do a double take because I didn’t realize that gospel music could sound like that …”

Part of the concert’s uniqueness was the tendency to interact with the audience. At times, the Voices of Soul members shouted and yelled or encouraged the audience to participate through clapping or singing along. It seemed more of a participatory event than a concert at times.

“Voices of Soul engages with the audience throughout every piece,” Clingan said. “We encourage people to clap along, stand up and dance, and even sing with us at times. Gospel music isn’t about singing at people, it’s about singing with people. So we use our energy to connect with the audience and make sure that everyone is having a good time.”

One of the things Voices of Soul prides itself is in its diversity — both in diversity of members and of audience. Voices of Soul encourages people of all types to participate in the music.

“Voices of Soul brings together a diverse group of students who all get to sing gospel music and have fun while providing an encouraging environment,” Thompson said. “People from every walk of life can come in and feel cheerful from the music that we perform.”

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