The purpose of the choir is to minister all styles of Gospel Music in an atmosphere that celebrates diversity. This multi-ethnic group spiritually influences Biola's campus as well as the local 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. Under 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, when Biola alum Terry Coon of Citylights Church in Long Beach returned to Biola and accepted leadership. In 2016, singer/musician/voice-teacher Nena Wallace was chosen to lead the Gospel Choir.
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.