The focus of the choir is to minister all styles of Gospel Music in an atmosphere that celebrates diversity. This multicultural group continues to be a positive and spiritual influence on campus as well as in the community.
Established in the Fall of 1985, the Biola Gospel Choir (BGC) started as a energetic group of African American students who wanted to praise and worship God through Gospel Music. Now, over twenty-five years later, BGC continues to enjoy and share a rich legacy of music, worship, and community.
The choir first began under the leadership of Symone Starr Parker who at the time was just an undergraduate student. The students gathered under club status and eventually had an opportunity to sing in chapel as well as hold their own concert in Crowell Hall. Subsequently, Lenora Myles and later, Jimmy Fisher, also undergraduate students, continued the leadership of the choir. Since then the BGC has expanded their ministry to the surrounding communities in Southern California and beyond, as far as Las Vegas and New York.
Beginning in 1998, Marvina “Cooky” Levy faithfully directed BGC for eight years, continuing the Choir’s rich tradition of focusing on various styles of Gospel Music in an atmosphere that celebrates diversity. During this time, Levy also directed the Riverside Community College Gospel Choir. Through Levy’s leadership, BGC released one album and was featured on two additional albums, produced by the Gospel Choir Fellowship, a mass choir combining other college and university Gospel choirs. After Ms. Levy retired from choir directing, she welcomed Dansby Sturdivant as the Choir’s new director in 2005. Mr. Sturdivant served as Gospel Choir director until 2011.
BGC has had the opportunity to minister to both the Biola community and surrounding communities through various performances including:
- Sa Rang Community Church Complex grand opening
- The City of La Mirada
- La Mirada Performing Arts Center
- Universal Studio’s Annual City Walk Christmas Celebration
- The Los Angeles Salvation Army
- Mother’s Day Concert at the Irvine Spectrum’s Crazy Horse Restaurant
- Biola’s Missions Conference
- Cal State Long Beach Black Student Union Concert
The Choir has also been featured at the Heritage Music Foundation’s Annual Conference, under the direction of Dr. Margaret Pleasant Douroux, an internationally known gospel composer and evangelist. In addition, the Choir was blessed to tour in Las Vegas, culminating the trip with a performance at the Gospel Music Workshop of America’s Board Meeting. The international workshop is host to some of the greatest gospel music artists from around the world.
The Gospel HugHow Gospel Music attracted and embraced me.
"Everyone gets hugged at Gospel choir. Not just hugged, but Gospel hugged. A hug of music and a hug of soul. A strong brother to brother hug from Matt. A close to bone-crunching hug from Jenn. A timid, shy, maybe-I- shouldn't-hug-you hug from Naoko. And then there's Sister Levy. There's no escaping her almost-too-long hugs, the exchange-of-energy hugs that she gives each of us who surrenders to her motherly embrace. These are Gospel hugs..." Read more
Join the Choir
The Biola Gospel Choir meets every Wednesday at 6pm in Calvary Chapel. Students need not have any choir or singing experience to join – all are welcome to come!
Meet the Director: Terry Coon
I have been singing and listening to Gospel Music for as long as I can remember. I grew up at a small church in South Central Los Angeles where all we sang was Gospel Music, because that's all we knew. At the age of 3, my mother recorded me singing "My Soul Has Been Anchored in the Lord." 25 years later, I'm still singing the same song, but now I actually know what it means. My father and mother were both very active in the church during my childhood and still are today. Being the son of a Pastor I was always at church service where gospel music played a vital part. My mother sang in the choir for years and took me to rehearsal every week. I began singing in our youth choir at the age of 6. At the age of 12 I began to teach myself the piano. Being able to sing and hear parts was instrumental in my development. By the age of 20 I became the primary musician in charge of leading and directing all choirs and groups and I began doing the same thing for another church simultaneously. In Spring of 2007 I enrolled at Biola University and by the Fall I began leading worship to the tune of Gospel Music. It was at Biola where I yielded to the call of the pastoral office. In 2010, I left my "home church" and joined Citylights Community Church in Long Beach where I now serve as one of the pastors and worship leader. Over the years I've directed many choirs, sang in many groups, played with many musicians. At the center of it all was my love for God and my love for Gospel music. In the words of the "king" of Gospel Music, "I don't feel no ways tired!". My favorite gospel artists include: John P. Kee, Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Marvin Sapp, Marvin Winans, Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr.