23 July 2024

Choir wins praise in national TV finals

by Rebecca Hannant

A gospel choir that traces its roots to Hornsea has performed in the televised final of a BBC competition – and the winners are set to be announced this Sunday.

On Sunday, January 22, the semi-finals of the of the Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year competition were shown on BBC One, in which five choirs from across the country competed to be crowned the 2023 winner.

They were judged by choirmaster and broadcaster Gareth Malone, soul singer Mica Paris, and Mobo award-winning gospel artist and Christian rapper Guvna B.

GChoir performed their rendition of Take it to the Lord in Prayer by Nolan Williams Jr. After the performance, the three judges commented on the choir’s take on the song.

Gareth Malone said: “I thought it was beautifully shaped. You had a plan. It started so quietly. It built. We had the lovely soprano sections – that was great. I think it was a brave choice to start as quietly as you did.”

Mica Paris added: “This is exactly what a choir is in terms of the dynamics of going up and down. I was moved by that. I have to say I thought it was beautiful. I loved it.”

Guvna B said: “I have a friend in hospital at the moment and you made me feel like I wanted to just send them a recording. I thought it was sweet.”

Helen Garnett, founder and musical director of GChoir, said: “The audience adored it, and the judges did too. The song is very special to us as a choir, so we sang from the heart.”

The performance was one of two, as the choir’s final song will be broadcast on Sunday, January 29, when the winner will also be crowned.

Helen added: “We are very much looking forward to next week as it’s a huge contrast to this week. Prepare to be uplifted and surprised!”

The group perform songs from a range of contemporary gospel artists such as Kirk Franklin, Donald Lawrence and Richard Smallwood, as well as popular feelgood songs by the likes of Coldplay and Labi Siffre.

Helen, who went to school in Hornsea and lived there for many years, started her first gospel choir, Hot Gospel, in the town in 2003.

She said: “When I started the choir in Hornsea, it was just after I lost my dad. My dad and I shared this love for singing in harmony. Gospel music is generally very harmonious. Not long after I lost my dad, I just thought it would be an amazing tribute to him.

“I then moved to Barrow upon Humber so Hot Gospel sadly ended. I formed another choir, which has some of the original members of GChoir.

“I owe a lot of what I am doing now to that original choir.”

GChoir accepts any new members from the age of 17 to 55, and it is actively recruiting more men. To get involved, visit the GChoir Facebook page. To watch their Songs of Praise performance, visit bbc.co.uk/iplayer/episode/m001hhxn.