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New Gospel Choir Director Prepares for November 14 Concert

Gospel Choir Director Stephen Kelly

CHICAGO (November 9, 2009) – He’s the new face at the front of one of North Park’s most popular music ensembles, although, like most conductors, he spends most of his time onstage with his back to the audience.

Still, Gospel Choir Director Stephen Kelly is used to a role behind the scenes. Serving as the worship arts coordinator for University Ministries since 2007, his primary responsibility has been to prepare student worship teams for their performances in weekly Chapel and colleglife services. When North Park’s former Gospel Choir director Rollo Dilworth stepped down last spring, Kelly was his first choice as a replacement.

“I am truly honored to lead this talented group of worship leaders, and I look forward to making a joyful noise every time we come together,” says Kelly, who will take the stage with the Gospel Choir for its annual fall concert at 7:30 pm on Saturday, November 14, in Anderson Chapel.

“This concert is all about magnifying this awesome God we serve,” says the graduate with a B.A. in piano performance. “Having played many different styles of music, I must say that Gospel music lends itself particularly well to exaltation and worship. So, if you're looking to enjoy a celebration of praise and worship to the King of Kings, then this is the place to be.”

The Choir will be performing one of Kelly’s personal favorites, “Old School Medley,” among other classic and contemporary selections. “I grew up learning how to play piano on this medley, and I get inspired every time I hear it,” he says.

Stepping into the new role, Kelly says he was most looking forward to building new relationships with students and sharing his passion for Gospel music with the choir and the North Park community. Now, having begun working with the roughly 175-member group, he adds that facilitating meaningful times of worship in rehearsal and in services has been one of the most enjoyable parts of the job.

“My hope is that through the genre of Gospel music, these students can not only express their worship to God, but also learn about God from the unique perspective of God that the African-American tradition of Gospel music mediates,” explains Kelly. “I've been impressed with how open and willing these students are not only to learn, but also to embrace and fully engage in this context of worship.”