Note-orious Gospel Choir Returns to Campus
Published: Thursday, September 27, 2012
Updated: Thursday, November 15, 2012 01:11
After a year of silence, Gospel Choir is back and ready to sing. The Choir, originally led by Alice Adebiyi ’11, took a hiatus of sorts in 2011-2012, but is now surging back under the leadership of Busola Olukoya ’15 and Tristan Neviska ’13.
Olukoya first learned about the Choir during the summer before she came to Kenyon, when Adebiyi visited her in Nigeria.
“[Adebiyi] was in Nigeria doing a Project for Peace in my village and she came down to see me in Lagos. We had lunch together, and we had so much in common,” Olukoya said in an email. “She told me all the things she’d been involved in at Kenyon, and we got really excited about Gospel Choir, so I made sure to join in my freshman year. Well, Gospel Choir wasn’t really a thing last year and so myself and [Neviska] decided that we were going to take over this year.”
The group faltered last year, Olukoya said, due to the busy schedules of its leaders, though Olukoya is busy herself.
“I’m a member of the Neuroscience Club, KC-Meds, International Society at Kenyon (ISAK); I’m an Upperclass Counselor and a REACH Mentor for two wonderful freshmen; I serve on the Board of Spiritual and Religious Life (BSRL); I work as a tour guide and as a library assistant at both the circulation desk and welcome desk of the Olin and Chalmers Libraries; I’m a host for Kenyon’s overnight program for [prospective] students, and I try to help out in Mrs. Wolfe’s fourth grade class at Wiggin Street Elementary School; and I’m a Peer Counselor, too,” Olukoya said.
Olukoya is also a leader of Newman Club, Kenyon’s Catholic campus ministry, but she said her involvement with Newman Club has no relation to the rejuvenation of Gospel Choir.
“The fact that I’m leading the Newman Club should have been a deterrent to my leading this group, but, you know, you’re not a college student if you’re not over-committed,” Olukoya said.
Conveniently, Olukoya will not have to take more time out of her busy schedule to listen to auditions, because the Choir operates without tryouts.
“Gospel Choir is about the music and how it makes us feel,” Olukoya said. “You just have to be able to snap and clap, and to stomp and sway.”
While Olukoya said she was “under oath” to keep the group’s repertoire secret, she said she will run Gospel Choir just like it was run before it took a year off: “the Alice way.”
“It’s pretty low-maintenance because we know this is new and we’re trying to make this an enjoyable and repeatable experience for everyone,” Olukoya said. “So, when we employ musical properties like [canons], they aren’t as elaborate as [Professor of Music Ben] Locke’s, but they get the job done.”
A key feature of the interfaith choir will be its commitment to giving every member a say in the way the organization conducts itself, Olukoya said.
“We set our rehearsal time based on our participants’ schedules, so the little time commitment is a plus for students. It’s very personalized because students get to choose their own robes and get to bring their voices and their kinds of gospel music to the table,” she said. “Also, we try to make it very interactive. When [Neviska] and I arrange for the group, it’s a work in progress. So if we try to do something and it just isn’t working, someone else in the group will make a suggestion and we’ll try that and … we’re back in business.”
The group is unaffiliated with other musical organizations on campus, Olukoya said, but it finds support in other ways.
“We’re independent,” Olukoya said. “We have the amazing support from some wonderful Kenyon students, staff and members of the BSRL.”
But the music is what matters most.
“You just have to love the genre of music we sing,” Olukoya said. “Be ready to go wherever the music takes you.”