U of I Black Chorus Performs in Collins Studio
The Black Chorus is a mixed chorus at the University of Illinois at Urbana-Champaign. Founded in 1968, the following year it received the co-sponsorship of the African-American Cultural program and the School of Music Choral Division. Originally organized by four students, and later under the direction of School of Music faculty with student officers, the Black Chorus has achieved and maintained a reputation for presenting inspiring concerts and demonstrating high standards of musical performance.
The Black Chorus maintains an active performance schedule, with formal and informal appearances on and off campus. The Chorus has performed at the National Black Gospel College Choir Workshop (held annually in Atlanta, Georgia), and in concerts at Purdue University (Indiana), Clarke College (Iowa), Clarion College (Pennsylvania), Northwestern University (Illinois), and Eastern Illinois University. In addition, the Black Chorus has performed with the Champaign-Urbana Symphony Orchestra and as special guests at an Orchestra Hall concert in Chicago.
In concert dress or choir robes, the members of the Black Chorus perform the music of Black Americans, ranging from the Negro spiritual, anthems and formal music to traditional and contemporary gospel, jazz, and rhythm and blues. In keeping with its mission to promote African-American musical expression, the Black Chorus has hosted the Black Sacred Music Symposium on the Urbana-Champaign campus and has presented prominent artists, including Take 6, Bobby Jones, the Winans, V. Michael McKay, A. Jeffrey LaValley, and Gary Hines, founder and director of the award-winning Sounds of Blackness.
Dr. Ollie Watts Davis is conductor of the Black Chorus.The Black Chorus was featured in the documentary "American Portrait: Lift Every Voice" from Illinois Public Media. This award-winning documentary followed three choral groups in 2020 as they rehearsed and performed amid the restrictions of the COVID-19 pandemic. Watch it HERE.