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A reinvigorated Voices of Praise choir prepares for Gospel Extravaganza Feb. 1

Jan 24, 2019

Koten Chapel has once again been graced with the uplifting music of Voices of Praise, North Central’s student-run gospel choir group.

Voices of Praise has found renewed energy thanks to Mikel Mays ’22 after the group went on a brief hiatus. Despite relaunching just this year, the group has made big noise on campus, performing during the MLK Prayer Breakfast on Jan. 21 where U.S. Representative Lauren Underwood served as the keynote speaker.

“I grew up going to a Baptist church. When I was five I started playing the drums and singing along, so music has always been a part of my faith,” said Mays. “When I heard about what Voices of Praise, I had to start it up again.”

With one major performance under their belt, Mays is preparing Voices of Praise for an even bigger event: serving as the host choir for the 31st annual Gospel Extravaganza on Feb. 1 in the Wentz Concert Hall, an event that draws the best gospel choirs from across Chicago to North Central College.

The group has grown quickly, and now features 15 vocalists who perform with band members on guitar, piano, violin and drums.

“We make it a welcoming atmosphere,” said Mays. “Most of our members have never sung in a gospel choir before, but everyone has come with a willingness to learn.”

A music education major, Mays knows how important it is to help performers grow and develop their musical talent. He frequently has guest instructors work with the choir for both vocal training and instrumental lessons to make sure they produce the best sound possible.

However, anyone who has experienced a gospel choir knows it’s about more than just music; it’s about kinship. The group spent a weekend retreat in Dixon, Ill., and invited instructors to come and offer individual lessons for choir members.

“We took a retreat together as an opportunity for us to become one sound and one family,” said Mays. “If we have connections to each other, we can accomplish even more together.”

With Gospel Extravaganza approaching, Mays has taken a hands-on role in preparing Voices of Praise for the event.

“This opportunity has given me the chance to learn about the business of leading a choir, and has been rewarding both professionally and personally,” said Mays. “I always plan on being part of the church, and hope to become a music director, as well.”

To hear Voices of Praise for yourself, purchase tickets to Gospel Extravaganza online.