York’s gospel choir entertains shoppers at Yorkgate Mall

Yorkgate Mall is not the first place you’d think of as a concert hall, but on Feb. 11, the sounds of singing voices rang through its atrium as the York University Gospel Choir appeared as part of the Performing Diaspora series.

Above: Karen Burke (centre) directs the York University Gospel Choir during their Feb. 11 performance at Yorkgate Mall 

The Yorkgate performance, a collaborative effort between York’s Harriet Tubman Institute for Research on the Global Migrations of African Peoples and the York University-TD Community Engagement Centre, was one of several events sponsored by the Tubman Institute commemorating Black History Month. The Community Engagement Centre is located in Yorkgate Mall, at Jane Street and Finch Avenue.

Directed by Professor Karen Burke, the 35-member chorus serenaded the enthusiastic crowd with songs including I Am Souled Out, It’s Already Done and Lord, We Bless Your Name. The presentation featured several student soloists as well as performances by a quartet of singers from the choir who thrilled the crowd with their a cappella renditions of traditional gospel tunes. Toronto musician Steve Henry was on hand to accompany the show.

Right:  York student vocalists performed a number of well-known gospel songs

The Performing Diaspora series continues its gospel theme this week with a lecture demonstration by Brooksie Harrington, professor of English at Fayetteville State University in North Carolina. His talk, “Workings of the Spirit: Womanist Influence and the Gospel Aesthetics of Shirley Caesar”, will chronicle his experiences working with a woman known as “the queen of gospel music.” Harrington’s presentation will take place in 280N York Lanes at 4pm on Wednesday, Feb. 24.

Performing Diaspora will conclude on Thursday, Feb. 25, with a vocal master class led by Harrington in 245 Accolade East Building, from 5:30pm.

Both the lecture demonstration and the master class are free and open to the public.