North Carolina Central University’s Worship and Praise Inspirational (WPI) Mass Choir was founded in 1987 as an organization designed to serve the university and the surrounding community by way of gospel music. In the past few years, a highlight of our fall semester has been our participation in the Homecoming Gospel Concert.
However, we were not selected to be a part of the concert this year. In fact, we were listed as being a part of the Sunday worship service on the university website without any proper invitation or engagement request.
It’s very odd to not have the campus gospel choir present at the gospel concert during homecoming. It has been a tradition for many HBCUs, including North Carolina A&T, Winston-Salem State, Virginia State University.
My frustration doesn’t come from the lack of participation, though. My frustration comes from the lack of professionalism from NCCU Student Engagement and Leadership.
Because we weren’t invited this year, our current choir members and alumni sent professional emails to SEAL’s executive director Orok Orok. We received a response that basically explained that SEAL wanted to “include student performers to showcase the wide variety of talent available.” But, in the recent flyer, we just see gospel artists Fred Hammond and Le’Andria Johnson, hometown favorite Todd Galberth and comedian NotKarltonBanks (as host).
After a month of dealing with this situation, I decided to go to my social media pages to create a very fact-of-the-matter post since multiple people have asked me about the choir’s participation in the gospel concert. I figured that utilizing this method of posting would be a way to explain the “reasoning” behind the choir’s lack of participation to the unaware.
Many supporters began to repost the post to their own accounts. I received numerous calls and text messages from individuals that had no clue that the choir wasn’t invited to participate and that they, in turn, would not be in attendance.
On the same token, we received some antithetical responses from senior Marquise York, our 2017-18 Student Activities Board president, about the situation under an Instagram repost made by the advisor of Unrestricted Praise Dance and Mime Team, a sister organization of WPI. Some of the comments included his opinion that the situation is “not that serious” and “to tell people to come at our chancellor and stuff is beyond too far,” when in fact the post did not charge anyone to act upon anything.
I feel as though the whole situation was sparked by WPI’s passion for serving our university and the sudden dismantling of the choir from the one opportunity that we have had to serve our university for the past few years, followed by a few unprofessional tactics that could have been avoided.