The Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir (AIGC) sings inspiring and uplifting Black Gospel music. The 60-voice community choir serves the North Coast region by performing at community events, fundraising benefits, memorials, churches and for inmates at the Humboldt County jail. The AIGC holds three main fundraising concerts per year -- the Harvest Concert in early November, the Holiday Concert in mid-December, and the Spring Concert or Prayer Breakfast in early May. See the Events page for a list of upcoming events.

The AIGC Youth Choir, with 15 members ranging in age from 5-14 years old, performs with the adults and at their own events. See the AIGC Youth Choir page.  AIGC rehearsals are Thursdays, 7-9 p.m. at the Arcata Presbyterian Church, during the late August through early May choir season. Go to the Artistic Staff page to learn more about the choir directors, assistant directors, accompanists and band.

The mission of the AIGC is to inspire faith, hope, love, unity and joy through Black Gospel music. The choir exemplifies the principles of equality, unity and cooperation through multi-faith and multiracial choir membership.

For funding, the non-profit AIGC relies on choir member dues, proceeds from AIGC produced events, donations from the community, various fundraisers, and from grant funds. The AIGC is now part of Humboldt Area Foundation with an Organizational Fund. Go to the Donate page to make a donation to the AIGC.

AIGC Board

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The AIGC Board of Directors oversees the AIGC organization to ensure it follows its By Laws and Mission, and is being fiscally responsible. The Board supports the work of those who do the day-to-day work of the AIGC and ensures through its work that the AIGC has sufficient operating funds. The AIGC Board oversees the AIGC Strategic Plan and coordinates key fundraising activities.

The current AIGC Board of Directors includes these hard-working choir members: Keri Raphael (President), Yemaya Kimmel (Vice President), Randy Sherer (Treasurer), Janine Volkmar (Secretary), Lisa Hoyt, Leslie Rodelander, and Dave Rosso.

AIGC Creative Team

The choir directors work with the Creative Team to do the day-to-day work of the AIGC. The Creative Team consists of Louis Hoiland (Director), Lorenza Simmons-Phillips (Assistant Director), Halimah Collingwood and Donna George. The Creative Team meets regularly to plan the AIGC season and organize all AIGC events. To support the choir, members take on numerous jobs including choir management, publicity, webmaster, graphic design, ticket sales, music transcription, leading vocal exercises, set up for rehearsals and events and assisting the Youth Choir Director.

Learning Music

The AIGC Director chooses, arranges and teaches the music, directs the choir and the band, and chooses soloists. The Director relies on the help of the Assistant Director, Accompanist and the Section Leaders to teach and perfect the music. The Vocal Exercise Leader works with the choir to warm up and train their voices. Although music is taught by rote, lyric sheets, musical scores and part recordings are produced for each song and are available on the Members Area of the AIGC website.

Black Gospel Music

Black Gospel music developed from spirituals and work songs of African American slaves. These songs testified to the joy and hope of life and dedication to God, even through the experiences of humiliation, pain, suffering and death. Traditional gospel developed from a fusion of spirituals and the blues; contemporary gospel has been influenced by jazz, funk, rock, hip hop, world and other modern music.

The AIGC adapts and performs many different types of songs, including spirituals, freedom songs, traditional gospel, contemporary gospel, and other “gospelized” songs. Go to the Music page to get a taste of some of the songs that AIGC performs.

History of AIGC

The multicultural events in Arcata during May 1992, which were organized by Humboldt State University and CenterArts staff and volunteers, led to the development of the AIGC. Connie Stewart and other volunteers created the first Prayer Breakfast on the North Coast; Connie had recently attended a ministers’ wives Prayer Breakfast in Florida with her grandmother Henryne Goode. The acquittal verdict of the police in the beating of Rodney King occurred a day before the Prayer Breakfast and there was a widespread feeling of anger and powerlessness in those attending.

At the Prayer Breakfast in the Arcata Community Center, the impassioned speakers, Professors Nathan Smith and Caleb Rosado, and inspired singing from local vocalist, Karen Dumont, HSU’s Black Student Union Men’s Ensemble, directed by Lourin Plant, and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, moved many attendees to tears. A group of the attendees decided to form an interfaith gospel choir in Arcata to help heal the wounds and focus on hope, joy and community.

The AIGC began with a small group singing at the Arcata Presbyterian Church with Professor Lourin Plant as director. After Lourin moved to New Jersey to teach at Rowen State University in 1993, Karen Dumont took over as choir director. AIGC grew and thrived and has had a total of six directors since 1992. In 1999, choir member Ken Collins wrote the AIGC By Laws and registered the AIGC as a Non-Profit Corporation (EIN 91-1850607).

Over the years, the choir has moved its rehearsal space to the Arcata Methodist Church, Saint Albans Episcopal Church and finally back to the Arcata Presbyterian Church. In 1995, Karen Dumont founded the AIGC Youth Choir, which continues today, and in 1996, Assistant Director Seanna Willett founded the AIGC Teen choir, which after a succession of directors, finally dissolved in 2008. See the Artistic Staff page for a complete listing of past choir Directors. Click the link to watch or download the documentary film, "Total Praise: A History of the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir".

AIGC Performances 1992 to Present

What follows is a list of the performances of the AIGC since the choir beginning in 1992

  • AIDS Memorials
  • Alder Bay Senior Facility
  • Arcata Playhouse Holiday Shows
  • Arcata Mainstreet Christmas events
  • Betty Chinn Benefit, 2017
  • Blue Lake Casino Christmas tree lighting
  • Blues by the Bay
  • Boys and Girls Club dinner
  • Bowl of Beans, Martin Luther King event
  • Campbell Creek Connection Rededication Ceremony, 2016
  • CenterArts, HSU Art Festival
  • Creamery Festival, 2013
  • Day of Dance, Music and Celebration, Arcata Community Center
  • Dialogue on Race, HSU
  • Edilith Eckert memorial
  • Eel River Valley Spring Concert, Fortuna
  • Empty Bowls fundraiser
  • Eureka Food Bank Breakfast, 2000
  • Eureka Inn Christmas concerts
  • Farmer's Market, Arcata
  • Ferndale Repertory Theatre benefit
  • Gospel in Garberville, Music in the Redwoods
  • Gospel in the Grove, Richardson Grove State Park
  • Granada Healthcare Center
  • Head Start Luncheon
  • Hospice of Humboldt Ceremony (annual)
  • Hospice of Humboldt groundbreaking ceremony
  • HSU Black History Month Soul Food Dinner
  • HSU Cultural Diversity Conference
  • HSU Dance Performance
  • HSU, Interreligious Festival
  • HSU Multicultural Center MLK Event
  • HSU Race, Religion and Orientation Forum
  • Humboldt Arts Council Black History Month concerts
  • Humboldt Correctional Facility (annual)
  • Humboldt Women for Shelter benefit
  • I Block Party, Arcata, Sister City project
  • Imani Community Church, Oakland
  • Ingomar Club Christmas Party 2016
  • KHSU and KHUM live radio performances
  • KMUD benefit at the Mateel Community Center, Redway
  • Lyle Lovett concert, 2004
  • Lumberjack Days
  • MAC Multiple Assistance Center
  • Mad River Festival, Dell' Arte
  • Martin Luther King Celebration, Trinidad Town Hall
  • Martin Luther King, Celebration, Adorni Center, Eureka (annual)
  • McKinleyville Arts Night, Church of the Joyful Healer
  • Montessori School benefit
  • North Coast Veterans Stand Down
  • North Country Fair (annual)
  • Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Concert, Oakland (bi-annual)
  • Orick City Christmas dinner
  • Patrick Conlin Memorial Service, 2016
  • Peace Conference, ACC
  • Peace March, Eureka
  • Pelican Bay Prison
  • RAINS benefit, Garberville
  • Redwood Coast Jazz and Music Festivals
  • Redwood Community Action Agency Christmas party
  • Redwood Music and Arts Fair
  • Redwoods United Christmas Party
  • Relay for Life
  • Sing-a-Thon benefit, 2016
  • Solar Eclipse Festival, Creamery District
  • South African Singing workshop
  • Spring Concert, Fortuna Methodist Church
  • Spring Concert with McKinleyville Community Choir and Messiah Choir
  • St. Albans Episcopal Church Deacon Ordination
  • Stop the Violence benefit
  • Thanksgiving dinner, Humboldt All Faith Partnership
  • 150 Year Anniversary for Eureka First Congregational Church
  • 150 Year Celebration, City of Eureka
  • 150 Year Celebration, Methodist Church of Arcata, 2000