Over the last weekend of last month, 9 University Choirs headed to north London’s Dominion Centre to compete in the 8th annual University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY) competition! The 2017 champions, London College of Creative Media, returned to defend their title and were joined by choirs from University Birmingham, University of Brighton, University of Cambridge, Canterbury Christ Church, Imperial College London, University of Kent, University of Manchester & Nexus ICA who all performed for a chance to take home the crown.
The show opened up with the UGCY house choir Uplifted Voices, performing a tribute of ‘Oh Happy Day’ in honour of Edwin Hawkins, who sadly passed away earlier this year. They were then joined on stage by UGCY’s host for the evening, MOBO Award Winner Rachel Kerr, who gave a soul-stirring rendition of her latest single ‘Alive’. Rachel then introduced the judges for the evening, Ayo Oyerinde, Stephanie Sounds, Volney Morgan and Les Moir.
UGCY 2017 Winners – LCCM Gospel Choir were the first competing choir to take to the stage, singing songs by Kirk Franklin, Hezekiah Walker, and ‘I Love The Lord’ from The Preacher’s Wife. The judges immediately expressed their excitement at what such a strong start to the night could mean for the rest of the competition. LCCM were followed by 2017 finalists Cambridge University Gospel Choir, who gave an enjoyable performance, and then new choir Kent University Gospel Choir proved why they deserved to be a 2018 finalist. The first half ended with a meaningful performance from Christ Church Gospel Choir, who sang songs which included Anthony Brown’s ‘Worth’. Choir director Vince Peilow, also took the opportunity to express the importance of Gospel Choirs in Universities, and the impact it can have on student’s wellbeing.
After the interval, Rachel Kerr returned to the stage to introduce Birmingham Gospel Choir who were first time finalists. They were followed by Imperial College Gospel Choir and Brighton Sound of Zion. UGCY 2012 and 2013 winners Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir were next up, with a technically sound performance which included ‘Joyful Joyful’, but they really captured the audience’s attention by singing Nigerian song ‘Imela’ which resulted in an eruption of cheers from the audience. The final choir, Nexus ICA Gospel Choir performed a solid set which included Donald Lawrence’s ‘Giants’, but it was their rendition of Kurt Carr’s ‘For Every Mountain’, which included rousing vocals from their lead singer, which gave the audience chills and earned Nexus the first and only standing ovation of the night.
All 300+ singers then filled the stage to perform Kirk Franklin’s ‘Could’ve Been Me’, directed by Anu Omideyi. The mass choir had audience members on their feet singing, clapping and dancing, and it also resulted in an entertaining dance battle between choir members.
Once the mass choir performance was over it was time for the winners to be announced. LCCM Gospel Choir came in third, whilst Nexus ICA Gospel Choir took second place. Host, Rachel Kerr then announced the UGCY 2018 winner as Manchester Harmony Gospel Choir!
In addition to taking the trophy, it was announced that the winners would also be featuring in award-winning singer/songwriter Muyiwa’s new music video for his brand new single which features rapper Guvna B.
With a fantastic night of performances and just as much fun with aStepFWD covering the backstage media we can’t wait for UGCY 2019!