Dr. Nathan Smith, a founding member of the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir in 1992, and Edwin Hawkins, one of the founders of modern gospel music, have both died recently. The AIGC morns the loss of both of these great men.
On November 16, 2017, Nathan Smith passed at 91-years-old while surrounded by his family and loved ones at Stanford University Hospital. Smith and his family are well-known in the local community–where his daughter in particular, Liz Smith, has occupied various leadership roles.
Dr. Smith served 17 years in the United States Air Force, during which he earned a Bachelors degree and Masters degree. Smith served in WW II, the Korean War and the Viet Nam War. After being discharged from the Air Force, Nathan earned his Doctorate degree and was a professor at both the University of Minnesota (1972-1985) and Humboldt State University (1986-2001).
Nathan participated in various choir activities ranging from his time singing with the Eureka Presbyterian Church Choir, the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir, the Ferndale Community Choir, and the Humboldt Harmoniers.
Nathan was the creator of a program called the "Power of Song" which he performed many times with the help of HSU colleague and good friend, Val Phillips. The Power of Song wove the singing of many well-known Spirituals with a narrative of the history and meaning of the songs and the story of the struggle of African Americans.