Low participation leads to the elimination of North Central’s multicultural worship teams
Soulful Praize and Worship Live World, North Central’s music teams devoted to multiethnic worship styles, will not be offered following this semester.
The students involved in Soulful Praize were notified of the discontinuation Feb. 11 via a text message from the director and founder of the group, Marquel McGhee.
Today, McGhee announced the cessation to his Facebook following. “Well, it’s the end of an era,” he wrote. “I am so grateful for the many, many years I had the opportunity to teach.”
As a student, McGhee began a Gospel choir at North Central in 2002 and began Soulful Praize under the direction of current dean of the music, Larry Bach. McGhee was hired as an adjunct professor and became the director of Soulful Praize in 2007. He has since been leading the group that is often filled with ethnically diverse students.
Bach sees the discontinuation as a practicality stemming from a lack of interest. “There used to be over 20 people wanting to be in Soulful Praize every year. This year, we have six people who signed up for an audition,” Bach said. “I’ll hate not having the group, but there just has to be more interest.”
This year, approximately 60 people noted interest in the general Worship Live teams, while only six vocalists signed up to audition for Soulful Praize or Worship Live World, according to Bach.
In a Facebook post, Jordan Hays, the current drummer for both Worship Live World and Soulful Praize, called this “an unfortunate end to a great legacy.”
Soulful Praize singer Callie Shehorn had similar sentiments. “I loved learning about different cultures across the world and singing music [from] other countries,” she said in a Facebook post. “I am saddened to see it not be part of North Central anymore, but am so blessed to have been part of such an incredible team.”
Other students are responding to the cut by claiming the music department is eliminating cultural awareness. “If North Central is wanting to expand cultural diversity, why are we stripping the student body of experiencing multicultural worship styles?” Worship Live World singer Anissa Godfrey said. “We need to be creating an entire cultural body. We can’t just pick and choose which parts of our school we want to be diverse.”
Bach, however, does not see this as a matter of eliminating diversity. “This has nothing to do with race,” Bach said. “My favorite genre is Gospel, but I can’t force people to participate in the group. If people want this group, they need to audition.” Next year, other Worship Live teams will be experimenting more with global styles of music, especially Gospel, Bach stated.
The withdrawal of these teams comes only one year after the music department made the decision to eliminate the jazz band, which also happened as a result of extremely low participation.