Academics, Campus wide, College of Humanities & Social Sciences, Music

Decades-old Gospel Choir now offered as a course at CSU

By Jenna Johnson | September 13, 2021
One Accord Gospel Choir performs at CSU in early 2020. Photo by Richard Esposito

Charleston Southern University’s Horton School of Music is expanding its music course opportunities by offering Gospel Choir each semester. With virtually no limit on capacity, students from any academic discipline can enroll. 

Students will learn the history of traditional African-American gospel music and how it has become a progressive sound in the contemporary worship experience.  

“This course supports and ties scholarly encouragement, diversity and theological efforts with a Christ-centered emphasis,” said Darrell Ravenell ’18, the director of the One Accord Gospel Choir for over 25 years. “Our objective is to give students an opportunity to sing and experience the culture of gospel music and its influences. Singers gather each week to express their love for Christ and foster unity and harmony on campus and in the surrounding community.”

One Accord alumna Dr. Tonya Houston ’91, assistant professor in CSU’s College of Education, said the choir became a home away from home for herself and fellow students 30 years ago. 

“The Gospel Choir provided a safe space where we could use our God-given beautiful strong voices, rhythmic movements and syncopated expressions of praise and worship to usher the people of God into worship,” Houston said. The choir adopted the name “One Accord” while she was a member. During her junior year at CSU, Houston was voted in as Choir Director.

Reflecting on fond memories of her time as a student, traveling along country roads to churches and venues with her fellow choir members, Houston said she is overjoyed by this move to offer Gospel Choir as an elective course. “I am excited to see what God is doing,” she said. “I truly believe great things are in store.”

The class meets Monday and Wednesday evenings for a total of three hours. It is offered as a one-hour credit (MUSI 121-63); however, students who may have maxed credit requirements or may have taken the course already can enroll for “0” credit. 

In addition to vocal performance, the choir also includes a three-piece band and dance troupe. 

Ravenell, who has performed across the United States and toured European cities, said education is essential for a balanced outlook and an enhanced approach to certain conditions. “When learning is paired with experience, knowledge provides a more fundamental perspective on every claim,” he said. “In addition to developing a vocal presentation, this class will also assist students with developing a biblical conscience and a Christ-centered worship perspective that is inspirational—which formulates a biblical understanding of worship according to Scripture.”

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