BERKELEY, CA -- Nearly 1,000 people came to watch the internationally renown Young Inspiration Gospel Choir (YIGC) of the University of California at Berkeley (UCB) perform their biannual African American Gospel music event at the First Presbyterian Church of Berkeley, April 17. The 3-hour performance, held as an impetus to spread the culture of African Americans, was also used as a powerful evangelistic tool to spread the gospel of Christ.
“The music talks about good news,” said Silvester Carl Henderson, director of the YIGC event. “It can be used to reach spiritual height, drawing people to the church, to an organization where they can uplift name of Jesus.”
Henderson, who serves as a minister of music at the 4,000-member Palma Ceia Baptist Church in Hayward, California, founded the YIGC in 1985 to secure an academic home and unite the community under the banner of African American and Gospel music.
“What motivated me was the desire to bring the community together,” said Henderson. “Many places have become multicultural and it seems it is difficult to have one music where everyone could unite together. I have great passion to see people of all ethnicities to do positive Gospel.”
Henderson also said that as a professor of African American Studies and Music at UCB, he hope to see the youth fill their spirits with the positive culture of the gospel.
“My vision is seeing the young people doing Gospel music,” said Henderson. “They (YIGC) have ultimated what Gospel music is. They are classy, disciplined, soulful, creative, and conservative. They have all the elements to make True Music.”
Many of the performers agreed with Henderson, saying that the gospel is more than just music because it comes from the Holy Spirit.
“The love that everyone at the concert has for the Lord was tangible, it filled the room and everyone was excited. It makes me so happy,” said Marvin Battley, a junior at UCB and tenor at the YIGC.
Battley, who is a choir member at the Antioch Presbyterian Church in San Francisco, said that the music touched him at a deeper level after learning more about the bible.
“I think I’m really able to feel the music in a different way because I’ve been recently doing Bible Study,” continued Battley. “I received so much grace from it. Before I would be like ‘Oh, I love Gospel choir’ because of the amazing energy but now I know that the energy comes from the Holy Spirit.”
The Tufts Third Day Gospel Choir of the Tufts University also joined the performance, doubling the power of Gospel music.
Since its inception 19 years ago, the YIGC has been inspiring the nation with the Gospel music as the choir goes on an educational tour to offer performances at various places including schools, churches, and the general community. YIGC has also influenced the Department of Music and African American Studies at UC Berkeley provoking students with the great cultural awareness where Christianity plays a dominant role.