What is a gospel choir?
A gospel choir is a group of vocalists who perform live gospel music together, specialising in religious, soul or popular music for occasions such as weddings, corporate events and private parties. With spiritual and religious roots based in American folk music, gospel music features dominant vocals, strong rhythms and intricate melodies, and often incorporates elements of jazz and blues.
Gospel choirs can be made up of anything from 4 – 8+ members, and will either perform a cappella (voices alone) or accompanied by instruments such as piano/organ, drums, and guitar. The artists will often sway and clap while performing, in reaction to the heavily rhythmical style of the music.
Gospel choirs tend to have a very distinctive, snappy style to their outfits, and some even offer the option of wearing choir robes if that’s what you’d like at your event.
What music will a gospel choir play?
Religious or non-religious, gospel choirs will perform beautiful, powerful and expressive renditions of songs for a range of occasions and moods. From traditional gospel music, hymns, soul and Motown covers to classic and contemporary rock and pop, these lists show a sample of the songs and artists that gospel choirs can cover, in a gospel arrangement.
- Amazing Grace
- Ave Maria (Gospel Version)
- Be Still My Soul
- Down To The River To Pray
- Fight the Good Fight
- His Eye Is On The Sparrow
- How I Got Over
- I Will Follow Him
- Jesus Loves Me
- Joyful, Joyful
- Oh Happy Day
- People Get Ready
- Precious Lord
- Swing Low Sweet Chariot
- This Little Light of Mine
- Al Green
- Aretha Franklin
- Bob Marley
- Bruno Mars
- Carole King
- Diana Ross
- Dionne Warwick
- Ed Sheeran
- Elton John
- Emeli Sande
- Etta James
- George Michael
- Jackie Wilson
- Leona Lewis
- Marvin Gaye
- Norah Jones
- Pharrell Williams
- Robbie Williams
- Sam Cooke
- Stevie Wonder
- Take That
- The Beatles
- The Bee Gees
- The Four Tops
- Van Morrison
- Whitney Houston
You can find the repertoire for every gospel choir on their Alive Network profile page. Most also offer the option to tailor their set list to your specific passions, or to learn a new song for your special occasion.
Popular types of gospel choir
Established in the early 1900s in South East America, southern gospel is a genre of Christian music originally created to express faith and ‘spread the word’ of evangelical Christianity. Traditionally featuring a quartet of all-male vocals and a piano, the style has since become incorporated into popular music tracks by American artists and UK artists, such as The Blackwood Family, Christian Troubadours, Jake Hess, The Hoppers and even Elvis and The Rolling Stones. Several songs from the Cohen brothers’ 2000 film, O Brother Where Art Thou nod their caps to the southern gospel style.
Traditional Black Gospel
Written to voice personal or public religious belief, traditional black gospel music was born in America during the conversion of black slaves to Christianity. At this point, many African cultures and religions were combining with Western, and the ‘spirituals’ were the songs that described their religious Christian principles, while depicting the torment of slavery and also delivering secret coded messages, for example, how fugitives could avoid capture. Songs in this genre include Wade in the Water, Song of the Free, and Swing Low, Sweet Chariot.
Also known as urban gospel, this modern form of Christian music remains spiritual but is separated from its predecessors only in style and sound. Completely established by the late 1980s, contemporary gospel draws its influence from modern music like rock and roll, jazz, disco, RnB, and funk. Think Shackles (Praise You) by Mary Mary, Oh Happy Day by Edwin Hawkins, and other artists like Tramaine Hawkins, John P. Kee and Oleta Adams.
Where in the UK do Alive gospel choirs perform?
Performing centre-stage at private parties or backing up your singing guests at a church wedding ceremony, gospel choirs can give events real wow factor right across the UK and internationally. The locations they are most often seen are:
Most popular counties:
Most popular cities:
Is a gospel choir suitable for my event?
The jubilant and emotive sound of a gospel choir can astound and delight, any time of day or night, at a wide range of occasions, including:
Their gorgeous harmonies can enchant your guests, giving a soaring, life affirming ambience at your event.
At weddings, gospel choirs can become a real feature, singing your specially-chosen music for the processional, during the ceremony and then performing an euphoric refrain for the recessional, to match the mood. They can also perform following the ceremony itself, during a drinks reception.
Bear in mind that if you’re planning a civil wedding ceremony, you choir music should have no religious references. Our gospel choirs can easily work to these regulations however and, along with our Entertainment Coordinators, can guide you with a selection of music that will work beautifully for non-religious services. Also see our Civil Ceremony Music Ideas article.
Gospel choirs can provide the main entertainment at your event, or can provide vocal support to your guests singing during a wedding celebration, making for some uplifting, unforgettable moments!
For corporate functions, gospel choirs can thrill your guests at drinks receptions, cocktail parties, and awards ceremonies.
Space considerations at your event
Gospel choirs can adapt the numbers in their group to fit with both your venue and occasion. If your venue has plenty of room, then you can wow your guests with the visual and musical power of a large gospel choir. Or if your celebrations are taking place in a smaller venue, you can still have a striking but smaller gospel choir by reducing the line-up.
A standard setup of four singers performing with a digital piano will need a space of around 4 x 3 metres square.
For approximate requirements, see ‘How much space will a gospel choir need?’, below.
Volume – how loud is a gospel choir?
The spine-tingling sound of a live gospel choir will leave a real impression. The volume that your gospel choir can perform at will differ depending on the number of singers, whether they're performing a cappella or with instrumental accompaniment, and also the acoustics of the room in which they're singing. The typical volume range of a gospel choir is around 80 db – 110 dB (decibels).
How much does a gospel choir cost?
Gospel choirs vary in price, depending on line-up and the options each choir offers.
In 2017, the average price of a 5-piece gospel choir is around £1,000.
This table outlines the various price ranges for different types of gospel choirs:
|Type of Artist
||£800 – £1,000
||£1,000 – £1,200
||£1,600 – £2,000
Booking a local gospel choir is one way you may be able to minimise costs, as their travel expenses will be less than a band that live far away – the profile page for each gospel choir shows their home town location.
How long will a gospel choir play for?
Most will offer one 45-minute or two 30-minute performances, or the option to perform during a certain part of your event, such as during a wedding ceremony or drinks reception. They will usually take a break of about 30 minutes in-between sets. You can choose the offering that will fit most closely with what you will need at your event.
How much space will a gospel choir need?
Like any creative group, a gospel choir will need room to move around to the music as they perform, in full view. The impact of their style and numbers can be a wonderful visual attraction too, so you’ll want your guests to be able to see them clearly.
Usually performing with the accompaniment of a digital piano, the line-up you choose, the number of singers and the type of instruments, will all impact on the amount of space they need. This table gives an idea of the approximate space needed for a gospel choir:
|Size of gospel choir
||Performance Space Required
| Solo singer
||2 × 2 metres
| Duo artists
||3 × 2 metres
| 3 singers with digital piano
||3 × 3 metres
| 4 singers with digital piano
||4 × 3 metres
| 5 and 6 singers with digital piano
||5 × 3 metres
| 7-piece choir and bigger
||5/6 × 4 metres
How long will it take for a gospel choir to set up?
In terms of setup, gospel choirs are a fairly time-efficient entertainment option. It usually takes about 30 minutes to unload, set up, warm up their voices and perform a sound check if they’re using sound equipment or if they’re accompanied by a piano, for example. This will depend on how close to the venue they can park, particularly in relation to the performance area. Some busy city hotels require singers and musicians to load in via a supplier’s entrance, using an elevator which is shared with hotel staff and trades, which can impact the choir’s set up time.
Once they’ve completed their musical quest for you, it takes roughly 20 minutes to pack down, load out, and clear the venue.
What equipment will a gospel choir need?
To energise your event with all-encompassing, effortless style, our gospel choirs will welcome:
- a dedicated, suitably-sized, safe, dry, flat performance area or stage. Large choirs may need a 2-tiered stage, so that the back row of singers can be seen.
- if they’ve agreed to perform outdoors for you, your gospel choir must have complete cover from the elements
- good lighting to read music and lyrics, especially if they're performing in a marquee or dimly-lit venue, for example
- a minimum of four 13 amp power sockets, depending on the choir’s line-up and use of electronic sound systems
- refreshments – in some instances, your choir will need soft drinks and food, depending on the length of time they’re performing for
- parking provision with good venue access
- a secure, lockable changing room
- sturdy, armless chairs for any acoustic musicians
Most gospel choirs can provide their own PA sound equipment.
For a more comprehensive gospel choir booking guide please read ‘Booking a gospel choir – Everything you’ll ever need to know’.
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