UNIVERSITY OF BIRMINGHAM GOSPEL CHOIRS SOLDIERS STORM THROUGH TO WIN UGCY 2019 AT OASIS HOUSE!
Congratulations to University of Birmingham Gospel Choir!
The 9th annual University Gospel Choir of the Year competition held on 6th April 2019 at Oasis House, Croydon was truly a unique experience. The competition hosted more than 300 performers and was a truly remarkable evening with an international flavour.
University of Birmingham (University of Birmingham Gospel Choir) won the coveted title of University Gospel Choir of the Year 2019, with the runners-up being Durham University (Durham University Gospel Choir) and Nexus ICA (Nexus ICA Gospel Choir) finishing in third place.
First up, was Kent Gospel Choir. Having debuted last year, they took the feedback received and stepped it up, bringing together a mix of contemporary and the classics, with their set including a Timothy Wright classic in “We’re gonna make it”, along with songs by Kirk Franklin and Donnie McClurkin.
Next, was UCL Voce who came up with a with a set comprising of Kirk Franklin’s hit “Smile”, some Afro-centric praise in “Igwe”, that transitioned into “I Give Myself Away”, that really told a story and the choir’s enjoyment emanated from their choreography.
Next up were debutants Durham University Gospel Choir, who took a different approach to their performance, which was primarily acapella. Included in it was Richard Smallwood’s classic “Total Praise”, which was executed with such authenticity; it captivated the entire audience in attendance and culminated in a standing ovation.
To conclude the opening half of the show was Surrey University Gospel Choir, regular participants since 2013, came with a Sister Act-inspired set. A new era was birthed, with a team that had were experiencing this for the first time, led by a director whose infectious energy endeared him to everyone.
After a brief interlude, the second half of the show started with Canterbury Christ Church Gospel Choir, which was well received by all. Directed by the legendary Vince, this year held a particular degree of poignancy for Canterbury as it was revealed that one of their choir members passed away in the last year.
Up next, was the University of Birmingham Gospel Choir whose army-inspired selection of songs, which flowed so seamlessly. The list of songs included the underrated hit by Matthew Allen “Soldier”, what we did not expect however, was the Stomp The Yard-esque choreography that went along with it. It was concluded with the timeless Andrae Crouch tune “We Are Not Ashamed”, the release of the flags by each choir member encapsulated the international flavour of the theme “Preaching to the Nations”. They received rapturous applause from across the entire auditorium.
The following choir was Nexus ICA Gospel Choir, who debuted last year to raucous reception upon its conclusion, came on and delivered an excellent set, which included Kirk Franklin’s “My World Needs You”
The mass choir performance song was Israel New Breed’s “All Around”, led by UGCY guest judge Nic Vani, directed by Heavilyn Sarpong, who is a UGCY favourite from her time as Portsmouth Gospel Choir’s director, leading them on stage with the Compozers and to the final of BBC’s Pitch Battle.
The evening concluded with the final results, which was delivered by Rachel Kerr. Everyone had their favourites, with the audience vote split across a few choirs. When the announcements for third place was made as Nexus ICA Gospel Choir, tension started to build (as much as the excitement). When the runners-up were announced as Durham University Gospel Choir, the anticipation built to the announcement of the winners, which for the first time, was Birmingham University Gospel Choir. The elation in the audience was resonated by the first-time winners, led and directed by Shanice Hobbs, who could only attribute it to God. With such a superbly-orchestrated set list, Birmingham were well and truly deserved winners.
This is the fifth time that a choir from the Midlands that have won the University Gospel Choir of the Year competition, is this a sign that London is not the hub of the next generation’s great gospel choirs? Is this the forecast of a shift taking place in the future of the gospel? Who knows.
Special thanks must also go to our ever-present host Rachel Kerr, along with our amazing judges Ayo Oyerinde, Emmanuel Smith, Karen Gibson and Nic Vani.
Special thanks to all of our partners, including:
T’Ayce of Pie Entertainment
British Gospel Arts