The Samford A Cappella Choir was something I never dreamed that I’d be a part of. But, one fine orientation day, I spontaneously decided to audition. Dr. Copeland offered me a spot that very same day.
You see, I’ve always loved to sing. Coming from a home where it’s normal to break into harmonies over the dinner table, I’ve been taught to sing praise to God with a joyful heart, and have thusly been able to lead worship for my youth group and church for some years. I was also a chorus nerd in high school. I know the kid you’re thinking about and, yes, that was me. I always insisted on saying “SHHH” to my rambunctious classmates every 3 minutes.
But this year was a completely different experience.
I arrived as a freshman at Samford on August 21st, 2011. Choir camp began that day. I was immediately thrust into unpacking mode and afterwards escorted down to Buchanan 310, where pizza and lots of people (who were all hugging each other) were hanging out. It was awkward to say the least. Having said goodbye to my parents, the fact that I was moved into my dorm was still sinking in. And sinking seems the appropriate term, as I, in fact, sobbed every time I went back to my dorm room that week. It was joyous (not).
But even as my eyes were brimming with tears during most of the conversations I had during choir camp, I didn’t realize that I was meeting who would become my best friends at school! My apologies if this sounds incredibly dramatic. I can promise it’s true to fact!
I learned many things in choir this year. I learned that God honours hard work. Putting time into learning my music and singing to the best of my ability pleases God because I am using my gifts. I learned that God wants the first fruits of our offering. I can’t just give Him what’s left over. When my voice was tired, I needed to depend on Him for strength so that my gift would be beautiful in His sight. I learned that unity is very important. We have to love and care about each other within the choir so that, when we perform, record, or compete, we will strive for the same goal. I also learned about leadership. My mind set is often, “If I don’t step up, then nobody will.” That regularly gets me into trouble (as I tend to over-commit), and it is not always true. I have to let other people use their gifts.
Talking about leadership, Dr. Copeland is an incredible conductor. It stuns me how a group of 58 students respond to the slightest hand gestures of a choral conductor. In response to those hand gestures, they are commanded to breathe, control their dynamic level, and express emotion. Another cool thing about Dr. Copeland is that it is his second year as Director of Choral Activities at Samford. From stories I’ve heard and from my personal experience, he has truly turned our program around. Samford A Cappella is internationally-renowned.
With all this apparent pride for our choir, we had some humbling this past month. Samford is a Baptist-affiliated university, and I love that fact. I love that we have choir devotional every Thursday, pray before performances and rehearsals, and share our burdens and triumphs together in sectional rehearsals. But we do need humbling often. Human nature is to be prideful, and trust me when I say that I am very proud of A Cappella.
We competed in the international competition “Le Florilege Vocal de Tours” in Tours, France against 7 other great choirs. This competition feeds into a competition in Italy next year that will determine the “best non-professional choir in the world.” We finished the competition in an extremely close 2nd place, being chosen by the judges as the best choir on both Saturday and Sunday but not measuring up enough on Friday for the averaged scores to be in our favour. So we didn’t win.
But you know what? We gave our all. We hugged, cried, and laughed after every performance on Saturday and Sunday, specifically Sunday (when, may I say, we blew it out of the water). We came home with overflowing hearts. We got closer! We were humbled; Humbled to perform with incredible choirs, and humbled to bless the Lord with what He blessed us with: our voices. I believe that God was please that Sunday.
But now it’s back to summer. Back from our European adventure! Back to consistently serving the Lord and channeling the specific gifts He’s given each of us.
I am so incredibly thankful to be friends with passionate, Jesus-loving, caring singers who I have the privilege to sing with for six hours a week. I so look forward to the coming years, seeing how God will work in our lives and how our music, our expressions, and our faith will spur listeners on to know the Majesty of Jesus Christ.
Please click on the links to our recordings and see the trip highlights. Love you, A Cappella kids!
Long Road (Samford A Cappella)
If I Can Help Somebody (Samford A Cappella)