April 01, 2014
For Yasmine Chervin ’16, a psychology major from Brooklyn, N.Y., directing Susquehanna’s Gospel Choir has more meaning than other extracurricular activities might. The group makes her feel like she has a “part of home” with her here at college. She grew up with gospel music in church and even directed a gospel choir at her boarding school before coming to Susquehanna.
Not every Gospel Choir member grew up with the genre, however. Elise Mervine ’16 had little personal experience with gospel music prior to joining the group. She says participating in the choir created “a new place in [her] heart for gospel music.”
Gospel music aficionados and amateurs alike are invited to join the choir, as long as they’re willing to work hard. That hard work has paid off with successful performances at a local church, the university chapel and numerous campus events including the Martin Luther King Jr. celebration in January.
The group is led by two student directors, Chervin and Johnny Culver ’15, a music major from Newark, N.J., who were eager to resurrect Susquehanna’s Gospel Choir in 2012 after a few years of inactivity.
Although they were challenged by the student body’s lack of familiarity with gospel music, the choir attracted nearly 20 members in its first year. The group has continued growing ever since, exposing campus and the wider community to this uplifting musical genre.
Jasmia Small-Jarrett ’15, a psychology and sociology major from Fairless Hills, Pa., enjoys many aspects of the choir, including the peace and joy it brings to her busy schedule, the confidence it allows her to build, and the friendships she has made with fellow members. But for her, one of the most important and rewarding aspects of the choir is the opportunity to share a part of her culture.
“Gospel Choir has really reinforced the way I see gospel music-an experience that was born out of the black culture but blooming to be spread and shared with all people,” she says.