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St. Thomas Gospel Choir Visits Villanova

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Olivia Gordon
The University celebrates Gender and Women’s studies

On Wednesday, February 21, in the St. Thomas of Villanova Church, a musical celebration of Black History Month took place featuring Philadelphia’s award-winning St. Thomas Gospel Choir.

The concert was co-sponsored by Mission and Ministry/MESI, Africana Studies, Theology and Religious Studies and ACS. It was an ACS-approved event.

Hosted by Dr. Elizabeth Jane McGuire, the event received a large student turnout. One of these students was freshman Shannon Green. 

Green discussed that, what drew her to the event initially, was that it was an “ACS Event,” but it ended up being her favorite so far because of the incredible energy.

“Everyone was singing and dancing along,” Green said. “They really got us on our feet.”

Others echoed the same praise, noting how different the event was from others. This performance was just one of the hundred services the choir shares their music at yearly.

The choir consists of 80 current members who all take part in Christ-centered music. Minister Waltier Blocker serves as the current choir director. 

Blocker grew up singing at church, and was ordained as a minister by the age of 12. He attended a performing arts high school and continued his education at Westminster Choir College in Princeton, NJ, and also The University of the Arts in Philadelphia, PA. 

From there, he has gone on to travel with, “singing opera and classical music by way of choral, solo concerts and performances with The San Francisco Opera, The Chicago Opera Company, The Syracuse Opera Company, Opera North and the Pennsylvania Opera Theater Company,” according to the choir’s official website. 

The Gospel Choir represents the Historic African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas, founded in Philadelphia in 1792 by Reverend Absalom Jones, and has won a myriad of awards, including the PHL Live Event held in Philadelphia as the 2016 Best in the Philadelphia Area in Gospel Music Category, and attended the Rhythm of Gospel Awards and winning 2 awards.

Green, along with others, were impressed by the event’s novelty, one that separates it from the others. The consensus amongst the students is that they hope the choir returns for another performance, and that similar events will be hosted in the St. Thomas parish next semester, as well.

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