The Queens Gospel Choir recently won first place in The College Choir Competition hosted by WPEG Power 98 FM, at University Park Baptist Church.
"We were the smallest of the three choirs and the only group without music so extra reason to be proud," said Vanessa Whitley, advisor to the choir. It won a $1,000 award and a trophy.
Johnson and & Wales University earned second place and Johnson C. Smith University, third.
Whitley has been advisor to the choir since 2007 and said it has grown from fewer than 10 members to more than 20 this year. The group sings on and off campus at the invitation of organizations across the region, she said.
"We believe there is a ministry in singing and want to share the love of Jesus Christ everywhere we go," Whitley said.
Choir President and Director Ronnie Compton, a freshman from Durham, said he has always been involved in choral music, both at school and through the church, and is grateful for the opportunity to continue his participation in college.
"Before the competition we had only traveled and performed together twice," Compton said. "And when we got there the other choirs had musicians and they had choreography, and they each had more than 50 members. So we were really surprised when we won. We are very blessed!"
The Gospel Choir performs once a month during the weekly Chapel service at Queens. On Feb. 27 the choir will actually lead the entire worship service. In March they will perform at Appalachian State University, and an April 22 concert is scheduled at Queens' at 3 p.m. in Suzanne B. Little Recital Hall.
"Gospel music, to me, is a way to express ourselves and our faith and thanks to God for how He blesses us daily," Compton said. "It's like a connection between the members and God. The younger generation can't always relate to the sermon at church, but Gospel music can be like a sermon for us. When we sing and express how we feel it's like a divine connection between us and God. He gives us everything we need to hear through Gospel music if we're ready to hear it."
Compton said the choir always welcomes new members and is looking to diversify the group. "Gospel music isn't just for any one kind of people. We want to reach out to as many people as we can."