JUN 21-23, 2024

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir

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Founded in 1986, the mission of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, Inc. is to inspire joy and unity among all people through Black gospel and spiritual music traditions. Born out of a gospel music workshop led by the exuberant Terrance Kelly at Living Jazz’s Jazz Camp West, it became an independent 501(c)3 nonprofit organization in 1991.

OIGC currently weaves together more than 300 singers across multiple choirs from a wide range of faiths, races, and cultures whose performances of historic forms of African American music bring a message of inclusion and belonging to diverse audiences.

The namesake Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, a “treasured Bay Area institution,” performs 25-30 times a year and is inclusive of an ensemble of nine to 15 singers representing OIGC at additional events. The choir and its dynamic director, Terrance Kelly, have captivated audiences across the world, from Israel to Norway to Australia to the Deep South. Singing with the same passion and precision wherever they are, the award-winning Choir’s exquisite harmonies and stirring gospel repertoire have led to performances with a wide variety of esteemed groups, such as Joshua Nelson, the Prince of Kosher Gospel; the Five Blind Boys of Alabama; and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The Choir has performed on stages large and small from the Paramount Theatre to San Quentin State prison and appears on Grammy-winning albums by Linda Ronstadt, MC Hammer, Tramaine Hawkins, and others.

OIGC also supports additional choirs including the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir founded in 1997. OIYC provides musical, educational, and social opportunities for Bay Area youth, as well as the chance for mentoring and college scholarships. In 2013, the Oakland Interfaith Community Choir held its first rehearsal with just 30 members. OICC grew exponentially, reaching almost 250 members in 5 years. Despite being a non-auditioned choir and meeting only once a month, OICC features a great degree of talent and enthusiasm and performs several times throughout the year, including their signature summer gospel concert.

When the COVID-19 pandemic hit in early 2020, OIGC stayed connected with choir members and audiences through virtual rehearsals and performances. The inaugural World Choir Project, I Won't Stop Singing My Praise, premiered in Spring of 2021 and included singers from nine countries in five different languages.

The summer of 2022 saw the acquisition of the Oakland Youth Chorus, followed by the first rehearsal of the Oakland Interfaith Kids Choir that fall, bolstering OIGC’s youth program and outreach to Bay Area youth ages 5 to 18.

When choir members hold hands in a circle before each show, they call out their wishes to send peace, joy, love and hope to everyone in attendance. And when the choir starts singing, audiences can’t help but jump to their feet, lift their hands, and allow the glory of the music to uplift them.

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