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ETSU Gospel Choir treks to Texas

By Laura Traister
On March 26, 2014

The ETSU Gospel Choir traveled last week to Texas to participate in a spiritual retreat as well as perform and compete with other gospel choirs.
The choir traveled to Dallas to participate in the National Baptist Student Union Retreat.
They left Johnson City on Wednesday evening and arrived in Dallas after an 18-hour drive.
They competed against other choirs on Saturday, but their time at the retreat was much more than a competition.
Freshman Ruth Nwauche, a member of the gospel choir, explained: "It was a competition, but they told us not to think of it in that way. We had to go to different seminars and stuff like that that helped us increase our spirituality and our connection with God, and every night there was like a praise service and a sermon."
Nwauche hails from Charlotte, N.C. She joined the gospel choir because it gives her an opportunity to express and increase her faith and also because of the choir's scholarship opportunity.
When comparing the gospel choir with other types of choirs she said, "It's more soulful, I guess you could say. We have tons of movements to the words of the songs ... our directors tell us to move our hands and our bodies with the words of the music,  so you can't just stand in one place and sing."
The musical selections also differ: "We use songs that black singers sing instead of like contemporary music or something like that."
The entire choir did not travel to Dallas, but many members went.
The choir's dance team also performed during the retreat.
The group is led by elected students and advised by Laura Terry, who accompanied the choir to Dallas.
The choir did not place after the competitive performance on Saturday, but scored just one point away from second place, and, in Nwauche's words, "still had a very good performance."
Nwauche explained that ETSU's choir stuck out from the other university choirs at the retreat: "Ours was the only one that had diversity. The other schools were historically black colleges ... but I feel like we're a strong choir because we do have that diversity."
It was a busy few days, but some students did have the opportunity to see some sights, such as the JFK Memorial in downtown Dallas where President Kennedy was assassinated back in 1963.
The choir's major trip last year was to Florida, and next year they plan to travel to Atlanta.
They also travel locally, mostly to sing at area churches. "Different churches, they invite us to events that they're having and we'll come and sing and just minister to them. A lot of the times they provide us food ... it's how we make connections with other churches in the community and how we get our name out," Nwauche said.
Being a member of the choir is a serious commitment, but for Nwauche its benefits are manifold.
"[The choir] keeps me involved on campus while growing my connection and spirituality with God, and I just like how we get to travel and perform, but it's also like a family to me ... we're all like just a big family, so that's good, and we all enjoy praising God together."

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