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Gospel Chorale wins Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards competition

Published date: August 14, 2015

VSUGC Leadership

(l to r) Ja'Van Jefferson - Assistant Manager; James Holden Jr. - Faculty Director/Advisor; Perry Evans II - Director; Mark Johnson - Musical Director; Michael Rainey - Business Manager

The internationally-acclaimed Virginia State University Gospel Chorale (VSUGC) added another accolade to its long list by claiming first place in the 2015 Steve Harvey Neighborhood Awards Gospel Choir Competition, held recently at the Georgia World Conference Center in Atlanta. The VSUGC received $10,000 for its accomplishment.

This year, the VSUGC made history as the first-ever college choir to participate in the competition and was the only university group featured. The VSUGC competed against six church groups from Florida, Indiana and North Carolina.

Judging for the competition was based on crowd appeal. The VSUGC was acclaimed for its ability to not only sing different styles of gospel, but the ability of praise, worship and ministry. The group’s performances from each round are posted at

The Steve Harvey event added to the VSUGC’s history of “firsts” in competitions, dating back 20 years. From 1995 to 2006 the VSUGC participated in the annual National Black Caucus College Choir Competition, winning first and second place numerous times. In 2003, it swept the competition by winning 13 of 16 award categories. No choir has ever won that many awards in a single competition. The VSUGC led the push for college choir participation in the How Sweet the Sound - A Verizon Experience competition. As a result, in 2012 four college choirs were part of the 49 choirs selected nationally to compete. That year, the VSUGC won the People’s Choice Award in the DC Regional. Most recently, in 2013 the VSUGC was the first college gospel choir to appear on NBC’s America’s Got Talent and advanced to the show’s quarterfinal round.

The past three years have been extremely noteworthy for the VSUGC. In addition to its honors in the Verizon competition and America’s Got Talent, in January 2013 the group participated in the Washington, DC Citywide Interfaith Food Drive, one of the official kick-off events for President Obama’s National Day of Service during second inauguration weekend.

In December 2013 the VSUGC performed in a nearly month-long European tour, highlighted by a performance for the Pope’s Vatican Christmas Concert, New Year’s Eve concert in Rome’s Piazza del Popolo, and a number of televised music specials.

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