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Howard Gospel Choir

Howard Gospel Choir

Founded in the late 1960s by Melanie Russell (Lee) and Rosalind Thompkins (Lynch), the Howard Gospel Choir (HGC) is the first collegiate choir of its kind in the world. As a result, HGC has pioneered an international legacy in gospel music ministry. With an active roster of seventy-plus persons that consists of students and alumni from Howard
University, as well as others from the surrounding community, the choir is one of the largest religious life organizations on campus, operating under the historic Andrew Rankin Memorial Chapel. The Dean of the Chapel, the Reverend Dr. Bernard Richardson serves as the choir’s advisor.

In addition to distinguished professionals in every imaginable discipline, past members of this award-winning ensemble include Grammy Award© winners Richard Smallwood, Coré Cotton (member of Sounds of Blackness), and Elbernita “Twinkie” Clark of the legendary Clark Sisters, as well as R&B star Ángela Winbush. Exceptional musicians have always been instrumental in shaping HGC’s unique sound to embrace both contemporary and traditional gospel, church hymns, Negro spirituals and classically arranged anthems. For twenty-five years, the late Arphelius
Paul Gatling, III served as the Musical Director. He is largely responsible for crafting the unique sound of the choir.

For almost five decades, the Howard Gospel Choir has set a very high standard as a premier performing arts ensemble, singing at a wide variety of venues in and around the Greater Washington, DC Metropolitan Area including: The White House, the Capitol Building, DAR Constitution Hall, Washington National Cathedral, and the Smithsonian
Museum of American History. Most recently, HGC was one of the featured artists to perform for both the 2016 and the 2017 Kennedy Center Honors, and was also as a part of ABC Television’s Emmy Award winning special Taking the Stage which celebrated the grand opening of the Smithsonian National Museum of African American History and Culture. The choir has also been blessed to receive both national exposure, having appeared from coast to coast within the continental United States, and international exposure, having served as cultural ambassadors to more than twenty countries throughout Europe and the Americas. In additional to headlining numerous high-profile concerts in a variety of venues, they have participated in other cultural exchange activities and have conducted master classes discussing various vocal exercises and the history of Gospel Music.

In 2016, the choir released their latest full-length album entitled Glorious God (available online at and on all digital platforms). The CD is a diverse collective of musical offerings that reflect their musical legacy. In addition to remaining on the Top 30 Charts for national sales and radio airplay in Gospel music for more than ten weeks, this critically acclaimed album was nominated for two 2017 Stellar Awards, four Rhythm of Gospel Awards and a Steeple Award.

From the outset, the Howard Gospel Choir has been in constant demand, and has been blessed to share the stage with a number of musical luminaries including Barry Manilow, Tony Bennett, Stevie Wonder, Fantasia, and Patti LaBelle. Additionally, HGC has performed at functions that have featured prominent political, religious and public figures such as President Barack Hussein Obama, Dr. Henry Louis Gates, Jr., the Reverend Jesse Jackson and the Reverend Dr. Jeremiah A. Wright, Jr.

Notwithstanding the legacy of excellence and the vast accomplishments since its inception, the main objective remains the same: to spread the Good News of Jesus Christ through song. Our purpose and passion is to serve Christ with our musical gifts bringing peace, restoration, healing and inspiration to all who will lend their ears and hearts.

The choir is currently under the musical direction of Reginald Golden, a Howard University graduate from University Heights, OH. Darrell Brown, also a Howard University alumnus, is the assistant director.


The Howard Gospel Choir will perform at Lang Concert Hall on Saturday, September 24th at 8pm.  There will be a community event, celebrating Swarthmore Gospel Choir's return with music, a meet and greet, and a reception to follow at 2pm on Saturday, September 24th at the African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas, 6361 Lancaster Ave, Philadelphia, PA 19151.