Morgan Smith, Faith Editor
It’s not unusual to hear music coming from Raley Chapel, but on Sunday Feb. 12, the chapel was full of a different style of music than what OBU students usually hear: Gospel.
OBU’s first Gospel Fest took place at 3 p.m. that day, as part of Black History Month.
The Gospel Fest was first conceived by assistant dean of students: diversity and multicultural student services, Jonathan Solomon, and Justin Pierce, an assistant professor in instrumental music.
Dean Solomon has been with OBU since January 2.
“When I first got here, one of the first concerns that I heard from students, specifically students who are in minority groups, was that they wanted an opportunity to worship the way that they were used to worshiping,” Dean Solomon said.
Since many OBU students come from churches that worship with Gospel music, Dean Solomon said he tried to incorporate it into the campus, while utilizing its current resources.
“I know that students in the past wanted to create a Gospel choir, so I teamed up with Justin Pierce and we talked through some of the different options,” Dean Solomon said.
“We have 519 Collective, which is an OBU student group who already performs at different events.”
519 Collective performed at the Gospel Fest alongside local churches from Oklahoma City and well-known singer, Thaddeus Johnson.
Quentin Dixon was the MC and host for the event. Sydney Mathews and Demarcus Baysmore were two of the students who performed with 519 Collective.
“We’ve been preparing since the beginning of the semester,” Mathews said before the event.
“Some of the songs we will be performing are actually very well-known by most of our members and have been practiced several times.”
They performed “Bless the Lord With Me,” “Worth” and “In All the Earth,” among other songs.
Like Dean Solomon, both Mathews and Baysmore hope to expose OBU students to a new way of worshiping God.
“I think it’ll be good for them to learn that there are different ways to worship God with different types of music,” Baysmore said.
“I would like to keep doing it, it seems like a really nice thing to have at OBU.”
Dean Solomon said that he would like for the Gospel Fest to become an annual event.
“As the years go by, as the months go by, I hope I can continue to grow this event, teaming up with people on campus who are interested in these sorts of things, and really pushing that forward,” he said.
Above all, Dean Solomon said that he sees the Gospel Fest as an opportunity to introduce OBU students to a new culture.
““I think that OBU itself is all about immersing students in different things, especially with Global Outreach,” he said. “Students are getting off campus and going to see different cultures, and I think we also have some cultures here on campus that I think it’d be cool for students to immerse themselves in.”
Additionally, he would like to help establish the Gospel choir as a greater presence on campus.
Mathews also said that she hopes the Gospel Fest will encourage students to help support 519 Collective.
“I hope that the students, especially those who may not be too familiar with Gospel music will really be able to appreciate it and will find it a great way to truly worship God through music,” she said.