For a long time, Harding’s motto was “at Harding, we sing.” Although the motto has since been changed, the idea behind it is remains true. Harding is home to six different singing groups, one of which is the Black Student Association (BSA) choir.
The BSA choir is a sub-organization of the BSA as a whole.
According to senior music major and BSA choir director Armani Jenkins, the BSA choir was created by Harding alumnus Jewels Edmerson in the spring of 2017.
Jenkins said that the BSA choir is unique because it is the first predominately African-American singing group on campus.
“I feel like the choir now is giving people a new passion and a newfound love (for music),” Jenkins said. “It is giving them a new insight on a talent and new friendships.”
Jenkins said that when she first took on the role of director, one of her biggest fears was that people would not take the choir seriously and members would spend the time making jokes. However, Jenkins said the response to the choir has been positive and, although members have fun, they do take their role seriously.
Freshman Namon Pope, a member of the BSA choir, said he wanted to be involved in music and the BSA, so for him, the BSA choir was a perfect match.
“The atmosphere is very relaxed with it being a student-led choir,” Pope said. “We know we’re there to praise God and enjoy time together. But just because we’re having fun, that by no means gets in the way of our productivity.”
Pope said the choir can learn a song in just an hour. According to Jenkins, this is a huge improvement since the choir began.
“Being over a choir, I’ve had to truly understand that to some, music is just as familiar to them as it is to me, and for others it’s completely new. They’re not used to so many harmonies, parts and levels of difficulty,” Jenkins said. “But everyone, including myself, has grown so much since the choir started a year ago. It used to take us up to three rehearsals to fully learn a song, but now we’re learning and memorizing difficult songs in one rehearsal.”
BSA choir member, junior Patience Trowell said the choir shows how as African-Americans, they can work together to produce music. She said the purpose of the choir is to show unity and that they can work together to sing praises, while being uplifting and encouraging.
“I wanted to join the choir, because I wanted to be a part of the BSA,” Trowell said. “I also like to sing and the choir helped to bring back my hobby for singing.”
Jenkins said there is also a level of their African-American culture that is brought into the choir.
“I’ve been in school choirs since the fourth grade, and the culture is so different than the culture of the BSA choir,” Jenkins said. “From the lingo to the way we openly express our compliments to each other while singing, to our random dance breaks in the middle of a song, to adding a beat-box or any beat to a hymn, our culture has naturally come out in everything.”
Sophomore Ally Davis, a member of Good News Singers, said she believes the BSA choir is set apart from the other singing groups on campus, due to this culture.
“I see the BSA choir as unique in that it is founded on more than just a common passion for singing,” Davis said. “It seems to be a group that has a passion for history, heritage and awareness, as well as music. Those additional commonalities cause the music they make to be even more powerful.”
Anyone is free to join the choir, Jenkins said; it’s not exclusive to African-American students. Auditions for the choir open in the fall, and all students are welcome to audition.