In 1995, a music instructor at the University of Alabama at Birmingham started a gospel choir with 38 students. Fifteen years, five recordings and dozens of sold-out concerts later, the UAB Gospel Choir has grown into an award-winning, chart-topping international gospel sensation. Choir members are eagerly anticipating the national release of their fourth CD, “Mirrors” Feb. 22, 2011, and getting ready for a tour in London this spring.
“Mirrors” will be released nationwide through MDI Distribution and will be available for purchase online at iTunes, Amazon, Rhapsody, Myspace Music, CD Baby and Gospelflava and at music retailers and department stores, says choir Director Kevin P. Turner, D.D. “Mirrors” is available on campus at Barnes & Noble and at Gospel Choir performances.
“Mirrors,” which already is available locally, was named CD of the Year during the fifth annual Alabama People’s Choice Music Awards Sat. Feb. 5 and also earned Producer of the Year honors for Melvin “Jay” Terry Jr.
A group of student performers from the choir will follow up the national CD release with a trip to London for a tour May 10-15. This is a very exciting time for the choir, according to Turner.
“We’ve got big news to share with the world. We worked hard on the new CD and can’t wait for the national release,” Turner says. “We want to get the word out to all our fans worldwide, and we’re still booking dates for our tour in London.”
This month the UAB Gospel Choir’s “Gospel Anthology” is being taught in Birmingham classrooms. The live concert captured on DVD spans centuries of African-American music, and choir singers and dancers take the audience on a trip through with West African dance, field songs, spirituals, music from the Civil Rights movement and into the 1970s. The concert DVD officially has been incorporated into to the Birmingham City Schools’ music and multi-cultural curriculum for Black History Month.
The choir is a national and international ambassador for the university, receiving critical acclaim in newspapers, on television and online. In 2008 their song “After You’ve Prayed About It” debuted at No. 23 on XM Radio’s Spirit Channel play list; two weeks later, it climbed to the No. 2 spot and held it for six weeks. Choir members have been invited to and visited Europe to participate in gospel choir festivals, and fans from Australia flew all the way around the world to come meet the choir in Birmingham two years ago. The UAB Gospel Choir now has more than 1 million combined hits for its videos and performances on YouTube, Turner says.
This fall the choir will perform “Gospel Anthology II,” a dramatic performance honoring the African-American church’s role during the Civil Rights era, songs of the Civil Rights movement and the foot soldiers, Birmingham’s famed Tuxedo Junction (a booming center for black Birmingham’s nightlife in the 1920s, '30s and '40s), and the quartet harmonies that were sung by black mine and steel workers this past century.