MSU Black Voices to Compete in Inaugural US Gospel Choir Event

MSU Black Voices

In early March, Mississippi State’s Black Voices Gospel Choir travels to Kentucky for the first National College Choir Explosion competition.
(Photo by: Submitted/Alexandria Wilson)

STARKVILLE, Miss. (Press Release) — Mississippi State’s 50-member Black Voices Gospel Choir will be among participants March 7 in the first National College Choir Explosion.

Taking place at the historic Louisville Palace Theater in Kentucky, the musical competition also will include choirs from nine other institutions of higher learning. In addition to Kentucky and Mississippi, they will be coming from New York, North Carolina, South Carolina, Tennessee and Virginia.

Founded Feb. 1, 1972, Black Voices of MSU is an outreach ministry established to serve as “the primary arena of souls to minister to the campus of Mississippi State University.”

The National College Choir Explosion was created to enable “the best and brightest choirs from all over the country to compete for their chance to win $30,000 in cash prizes,” according to organizers. Ulysses Lee “Junior” Bridgeman Jr., president and CEO of Bridgeman Foods Inc., will be the event’s host.

Charla Young, president and CEO of Power to Change Communications and host of her own Louisville, Kentucky-based syndicated television show, will serve as emcee. An Amory native, she is a University of Southern Mississippi broadcast journalism graduate who also completed several graduate courses in business administration at MSU. From 1994-98, she was a reporter for WCBI-TV, the CBS affiliate in Columbus.

Competition judging will be based on diction, intonation, tone quality, appearance, attacks and releases, presentation, stage presence and audience appeal. Prizes include: first place, $15,000; second, $7,500; and third, $5,000. A crowd favorite award also will be presented.

“Being given this opportunity is something we could have only dreamed of,” said MSU senior Justin M. Johnson of Jackson. An industrial engineering major and the son of Doris Johnson, he is the student organization’s president for the 2014-15 academic year.

“Black Voices has never competed in a national competition, so when we found out we were selected we were nothing short of ecstatic,” Johnson added.

All specialists in American gospel, the competition’s celebrity judges include Karen Clark-Sheard, four-time Grammy Award winning singer, musician and songwriter; recording artist Byron Cage; Martha Munizzi, a singer, songwriter, author and actress; and Ricky Dillard, award-winning musician and choir director. Cage and Clark-Sheard also will perform during the program.

For additional information on the competition, see or

To learn more about the Black Voices, visit, as well as

MSU, Mississippi’s flagship research university, is found online at

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