Courtesy of Noel Brown

This past weekend — April 12 through 14 — the Yale Gospel Choir, or YGC, hosted alumni and performed at Woolsey Hall to celebrate the 50th anniversary of the founding of the choir.

In addition to the concert on Saturday evening, the weekend featured a variety of events for the alumni. Gatherings included a meet-and-greet on Friday, a gala on Saturday night and a brunch on Sunday morning. YGC alumni were able to take a trip down memory lane and celebrate with current members of the choir. This cross-generational event celebrated the spirit of the YGC.

“The YGC has been a place where people can explore their faith, restore their faith and settle their faith,” said co-chair of the YGC 50th-anniversary performance Xzandre Smith ’25.

The history of the YGC goes back to 1973 when it was founded by Irene Jackson, who performed at the concert. Jackson started the YGC as an adjunct to the Black Church at Yale. But the group soon grew and blossomed until it became the over 30-member choir that it is today. 

Based on the Christian religion, the YGC is a place where students at any step on their faith journey can find community through music. 

“We have a varying experience with religion,” musical director Ceily Addison ’26 said. “But we listen to each other and love to have that fellowship and cultural understanding.”

The YGC has five musical directors: two to direct the band and three to direct the music. Directors are responsible for picking the music and conducting the singers and instrumentalists.

The concert on Saturday included songs performed by both students and alumni. Some performances were done by the alumni and students together, and some were sung by just the alumni choir or just the student choir. Songs included the anniversary theme “Sing our Strength” and the alumni song “Total Praise.”

According to YGC’s other 50th-anniversary performance co-chair Nana Ama Ocran ’26, all the alumni were excited to return to Yale and reconnect with members of the YGC.

This was the first time that YGC alumni have been brought back to Yale for a performance.

The presence of the choir’s founder was of special significance to many members of the group, who feel like they are the embodiment of Jackson’s legacy — according to Smith. 

“The YGC really is a community built on love,” said YGC president Adwoa Danso-Dodoo ’24. “The foundation of this choir is love, support and help in time of need. That was shown so greatly during this concert.”

This was the Yale Gospel Choir’s second performance of the academic year.

Luciana Varkevisser covers theater and performances. She is a freshman in Saybrook College planning on majoring in history and psychology.