Cabrini College stresses the importance of setting a diverse environment for our students. Sophomore Breanna Smith has decided to embrace that diversity by starting a gospel choir. “It wasn’t initially my idea to start a gospel choir,” Smith said.
Smith was suddenly recognized by Stephanie Reed, director of student diversity, who heard her singing outside of the chapel. “Throughout the semester a few of my friends mentioned that they wanted a gospel choir,” Smith said. Reluctant, she avoided them until she received further confirmation from Reed. It was as if God was speaking to her through others.
“My goal is to introduce the student body to a new perspective on what it is to sing gospel music and be a Christian teenager,” Smith said. Smith hopes that through prayer and practice that the gospel choir can and will grow.
Smith wants students to really understand what they are singing and live by it. That is what she feels is her ultimate goal. “Christianity is much more practical than most people realize,” Smith said.
Smith believes that people have this presumption about gospel choirs. Where there are black people are wearing robes, swaying side to side and belting high notes. “The choir is not just for the stereotypical African-Americans who have been raised in church all of their lives,” Smith said. Looking to have a choir of about 12-15 members, Smith says that it is welcomed to all who are interested. The reality of it is that everyone on campus is not campus. Smith wants people to be able to express their love for Jesus through song. “I know everybody on campus wasn’t Catholic,” Smith said, “singing in mass wasn’t something they were familiar or comfortable with.”
“Any student of Cabrini can be apart of the choir,” Breanna said, “if you have the ability to sing and have love for God you are more than welcome to be apart.” This was the one thing that Smith really believes is key to being apart. She is trying to stray away from the traditional campus gospel choir. “An open-mind and willingness to work would be very much appreciated,” Smith said.
A gospel choir is nothing new to the Cabrini community. Led by Dr. Bethany, the gospel choir was short lived. “Honestly, I don’t know what happened in the past,” Smith said, “I wasn’t here to experience it.” Smith believes that this will be different because this is really what the students want and have been asking for.
“It’s just nice to have something that reminds us of what we believe in,” Smith said She faces many challenges with advertising and getting more students interested in gospel choir. Her ultimate goal is to teach others about Christ, be apart of their growth and continue to grow personally. “ I want them to know that music is more than hitting the right note,” Smith said, “the lyrics, the meaning, the personal connection and the sound are all important as well.”
Smith believes that this will allow students to grow in their relationship with Christ because will be connected with others who have a deep yearning to serve the Lord. “Gospel music is based off of emotion, sincerity, and personal experiences,” Smith said. This small idea has blossomed into a deep passion for Smith. She knows that leading this gospel choir successfully is what she personally needs to grow deeper in Christ. “It’s all about trusting in HIM,” Smith said, “for musicians, equipment, members, faculty and student support.”
Like most new clubs here at Cabrini Smith hopes that the choir will have a positive effect on the campus. “It will give Cabrini something new to support and appreciate for its difference,” Smith said. The appreciation of differences is what Smith believes brings the Cabrini community together as a whole. “Everybody doesn’t do things the same way,” Smith said, “people learn to celebrate the differences because that’s what helps unite a community not divide it.”
Under the advising of the office of Student Diversity, Smith hopes that the gospel choir will really grow further beyond her highest expectations. “Although we may start of small, I know that we will be able to do powerful things,” Smith said. Smith hopes to reach out not only to the Cabrini community through gospel concerts on campus but hopes to minister in various places outside as well. “My intent is to perform at some group homes, shelters and hospitals,” Smith said. Smith really wants everyone to know that gospel choir will be the key to breaking chains and barriers. “We will be the group known for encouraging and uplifting spirits,” Smith said.