About the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir
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.
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: Keri Raphael (President), Yemaya Kimmel (Vice President), Jeanne Albertson (Treasurer), Patrice Walsh (Secretary), Leslie Rodelander, Lisa Hoyt, and Dave Rosso.
AIGC Steering Committee
The choir directors and the Steering Committee do the day-to-day work of the AIGC. The Steering Committee 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.
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 choir was founded in May 1992 during a series of multicultural events in Arcata organized by HSU and Center Arts. Connie Stewart, who had recently attended a ministers’ wives Prayer Breakfast in Florida with her grandmother Henryne Good, came up with the idea to have a Prayer Breakfast in Arcata. This event was held at the Arcata Community Center. The prior evening had seen the acquittal verdict of the police in the beating of Rodney King in Los Angeles, and there was a widespread feeling of anger and powerlessness in those attending.
The Arcata Prayer Breakfast featured the impassioned speaking of Professors Nathan Smith and Caleb Rosado, along with local singer Karen Dumont, HSU’s Black Student Union Men’s Ensemble, and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir. The event moved many of us to tears, but also to action. A group of attendees came up with the idea of forming 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, who directed the Black Student Union Men’s Ensemble, as their director. After Lourin moved to New Jersey to teach at Rowan State University in 1993, Karen Dumont took over as choir director. AIGC grew and thrived and has had a total of seven directors since 1992. In 1999, choir member Ken Collins wrote the AIGC bylaws and registered the AIGC as a non-profit corporation.
In 1995, Karen Dumont founded the AIGC Youth Choir, which continues today, and in 1996, Assistant Director Seanna Willett founded the AIGC Teen choir. The choir rehearses at the Arcata Presbyterian Church on G Street.
The AIGC is looking forward to spreading hope, joy and peace to our community for another quarter century!
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
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
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