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REVIEW: An uplifting evening with EAGA Gospel Choir


Venue: Cheltenham Town Hall

There is something joyous about gospel music. It is a moving experience that touches your soul regardless of your beliefs. I once attended the ordination of my friend, and it was there that I first heard and felt the intensity of a gospel choir. On Sunday night I took my husband to see what it was all about.

Running through the rain into Cheltenham Town Hall, we marvelled at the Edwardian architecture and went to take a seat at the front of the hall for the first half. People moved quickly around the stage setting up sound systems. The velvety red curtains were lit with blue and yellow lights. After a short while the compere who said she was Donna Howells from Warehouse Church, Newport, Wales welcomed us all to the Christian Arts Festival and introduced the Prophecy Gospel Choir to the stage.



Their singing, accompanied by Prophecy Gospel Band from the Church of God of Prophecy, Gloucester, was energetic and their voices soared and harmonised. Every individual was filled with overflowing happiness that spilled into the audience, who after a short while were up dancing and clapping along. Soon after their set had ended, Donna was on the stage interviewing Jordan Anderson, Choir Director of EAGA - The BBC Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year 2023. EAGA Gospel Choir are from a community church: Emmanuel Apostolic Church in Leicester. Jordan shared his experience of being on the BBC and feeling that it was an amazing experience that allowed the choir to spread gospel through the gift of music. He also reflected that dreams, inspiration and hard work goes hand in hand. Donna then asked us to welcome on the choir and a very long line of smiling individuals in beautiful blue and gold regalia filed on - the choir even had a signer.

And then it got loud!


An uplifting evening 1


Jordan eagerly directed the choir as they moved and sang with a great amount of energy. Various singers took the lead, their voices soaring higher and higher. I felt chills because their voices were so beautiful.

After the interval, Donna introduced Dai Woolridge, a renowned poet, who has written pieces for the Welsh Rugby Union. He proceeded to do three poems that were smattered with delightfully funny and warm stories of his life. He was followed by Helen Maynard Watts who, on speaking to Donna, revealed that she was pleased to have taken part in a song writing competition as part of the Christian Arts Festival and that she had the honour of winning. EAGA then returned on stage after much clapping to sing Helen's song 'Higher', which is loosely based on Psalm 23. The evening progressed with many more songs, including 'O Happy Day' where the choir were joined by singing workshop attendees.

An uplifting evening 2


The evening ended with a beautiful rendition of Amazing Grace with an encore when Jordan promised to take us to church and show us all how EAGA praises in Leicester. I am glad that I took the opportunity to review this event. It was different and a positive experience that was shared by a mixed crowd of those that worship and those that do not. Most importantly of all, it was a night of beautifully uplifting singing from people who have naturally exquisite voices.

Review by Julia



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