The fifth judge is the AUDIENCE! Yes, the audience will also have an opportunity to cast their vote and help decide the winning choir. This new move was recently confirmed as a fresh crop of university gospel choirs will be singing their hearts out in “Sister Act meets X Factor” style finals in an epic showdown to win the University Gospel Choir of the Year (UGCY) competition on 25th March. This soul stirring, fun filled live competition for the whole family was founded by Lorraine Wright MBE – and is now in its 11th year!
The choirs will also be put through their paces by a panel of judges that includes Calledout Music, Samuel Nwachukwu, worship pastor and one of the UK’s most successful Gospel artists of the moment. Musical and creative director of LCGC (The London Community Gospel Choir) Leonn Meade – recently musical supervisor and orchestrator at ‘The Old Vic’ theatre, brings to the panel his wealth of experience. Lurine Cato MBE, MOBO award winning singer and songwriter, who took her choir B Positive to the Britain’s Got Talent Finals will be encouraging the choirs to perform to their best ability. Volney Morgan, director of MOBO award winning group Volney Morgan & The New Ye will also be on the judging panel.
The winner will be announced on the night by the The worshipful The Civic Mayor, Cllr Alisa Flemming who will also be in attendance.
UGCY 2023 is organised in partnership with AStepFWD, a multi-media platform organisation that curates the monthly UK Christian Charts (the only national independent music charting system in the UK) along with initiatives such as the Masterclass Series, Artist Relief Fund, Poets In Autumn World Tour and the annual StepFWD Awards along with many other trailblazing initiatives.
University Gospel Choir of the Year was founded in 2011 by Lorraine Wright MBE, and continues to provide a prestigious platform where choirs can develop and showcase their musical ability in a supportive community environment, bridging the gap of geographic location and variety of alumni, bringing wider audience engagement.
The following choirs are shortlisted to compete this year (listed in alphabetical order):
- BIMM Birmingham Gospel Choir (BIMM Birmingham Music College)
- Christ Church Gospel (Canterbury Christ Church University)
- Durham University Gospel Choir (Durham University)
- Kent Gospel Choir (University of Kent)
- KUGC (Keele University)
- UoB Gospel Choir (University of Birmingham)
- VOCE Gospel Choir (UCL)
- Warwick Gospel Choir (Warwick University)
To add an element of variety, the rules of this year’s UGCY will for the first time allow choirs to feature a special guest artist to perform as part of their final set. Many contemporary choir groups favour collaborations as a way of creatively adding variety and versatility to their sound.
The event day will see university choirs from all across the UK competing with each other, including strong contenders such as BIMM – currently featuring in the current Songs of Praise Gospel Choir of the Year competition. A judging panel will carefully consider the overall performance of each choir on the basis of theme, choreography, musicality, arrangement and harmony to mention a few key criteria.
As always the UGCY will be full of dancing, laughter and roaring cheers (and a few tears!) with the soon to be announced Gospel Music experts judging the competition and ultimately deciding which choir will be crowned the 2023 University Gospel Choir of the Year.
The University Gospel Choir of the Year will be held on Saturday 25th March 2023 at Oasis House, Croydon CR0 3EX with doors open from 6pm. TICKETS are now available and this event is not to be missed!