Praise and Politics

(Video from the ECU Gospel Choir practice on Sept. 13 by Cliff Hollis and Jay Clark)

ECU Gospel Choir performs at Congressional Black Caucus event

By Kathryn Kennedy
ECU News Services

The East Carolina University Gospel Choir represented the 1st Congressional District of North Carolina in song and spirit, performing at an event in the nation’s capital Sept. 20.

Thirty-five singers and musicians traveled to Washington, D.C., to participate in the Congressional Black Caucus’ Leadership Weekend. The choir was invited to perform by U.S. Rep. G.K. Butterfield, who serves as second vice chair of the caucus. Other featured choirs are from Georgia, Mississippi and South Carolina.

“It’s an honor to be able to take the pride (the students) have in ECU and share it,” said choir advisor and Senior Associate Director of Undergraduate Admissions Tarrick Cox.

Cox said it’s the first time in the choir’s 30-year history that they’ve been offered an opportunity like this. Aside from showcasing their singing talents, he also sees the event as a chance for the students to network and see leadership in action. Cox said he reached out to ECU alumni in the D.C. area and invited them to hear and meet the choir.

Members will perform two selections and then a “unity song,” which will include each of the participating choirs, said ECU choir director Michael Melvin. He said they always choose their pieces based around a theme. This year it’s “Follow Us as We Follow HIM.”


ECU student Rachael Howard sings in the ECU Gospel Choir. The group has been invited to perform in Washington, D.C. at a Congressional Black Caucus event. (Photos by Cliff Hollis)

“It’s been an adventure (preparing for the event) but we’re real excited about it,” said Melvin, a former ECU student. “They’re a phenomenal choir and a good group of students. All the credit belongs to them.”

Terrill Harrison, a junior from Henderson, grew up singing in church and joined the choir when he came to ECU two years ago. This was his first time visiting Washington, D.C. He was as eager to perform as he was to tour the White House. “I’m super excited,” Harrison said. “I would have never thought that we’d be chosen to go. It’s an honor.”

He said he felt prepared despite the limited time for rehearsal. They began practicing the first week of school, Cox said, though choir leadership was aware of the engagement over the summer.

“This is how it normally goes,” Harrison said. “We sing, and sing and sing. I can’t wait. I’m ready.”

Choir president and ECU senior Amanda Farquharson, of Raleigh, remarked that the timing couldn’t be better.

“It’s a very big deal, with the election coming up, to be up there in that atmosphere,” she said.

“It’s a good opportunity for the choir to promote ECU,” senior Chris Cooper added.

More information about the ECU Gospel Choir is available online at

The choir’s fall concert is scheduled for Nov. 11 in Wright Auditorium.

Ray Rogers, district director of the Office of Congressman Butterfield, said the ECU Gospel Choir were “great ambassadors for the Pirate Nation.”

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