Connecting Columbia Union Seventh-day Adventists

Flanked by the Pine Forge Academy choir, Director Jarrett Roseborough and choir member Kaitlyn Lyseight-Shields (’25) hold the awards for Best Youth Choir and Best Overall Performers at WHYY’s Lifting Voices in Praise Gospel event.

Pine Forge Academy Choir Triumphs in Local PBS Praise Gospel Event

Story by Tracey Jackson

In a celebration of musical talent and spiritual harmony, Allegheny East Conference's Pine Forge Academy (PFA) choir recently emerged victorious in WHYY's prestigious Lifting Voices in Praise Gospel competition in Philadelphia. The choir’s inspirational performance captivated the audience and secured their place as the twocategory winner of the event.

The competition, hosted by WHYY-TV 12 (PBS), with radio hosts Cherri Gregg and WURD’s Solomon Jones, serving as emcees, highlighted youth and adult gospel choirs and quartets and soloists drawn from across the region. The Seventh-day Adventist academy choir, renowned for its soul-stirring renditions and vocal prowess, stood out from the start. Their commitment to musical excellence and a deep connection to the spiritual essence of gospel music propelled them to the forefront of the “Youth Choir” competition, as well as the “Best Overall” competition. The Lifting Voices in Praise competition is a precursor to the WHYY program, Gospel, which will air in February 2024.

Under the skillful leadership of their director, Jarrett Roseborough, the PFA choir delivered a performance that pushed musical boundaries. Their harmonies and movements resonated with a divine energy, while the repertoire of song selections was a testament to their versatility, demonstrating a keen ability to navigate the diverse landscape of gospel music. The seamless transitions between uplifting anthems and soulful spirituals underscored the depth of the choir’s musical artistry.

The four judges, comprised of seasoned professionals in the gospel music industry, were unanimous in their praise for the PFA choir. They commended the choir’s exceptional vocal precision, emotional delivery and overall stage presence. It was evident that the PFA choir had not only mastered the technical aspects of their performance but had also infused their presentation with an authentic and heartfelt connection to the music’s spiritual roots.

Jones remarked how the choir’s performance took him back to the struggle of his African American ancestors with a modern display that he found encouraging. Neicy Tribbett, one of the judges, was impressed with the rich history of the choir and school overall.

Roseborough says his top priority was exposure for the students. “I wanted them to gain a unique experience that was outside our routine concert performance,” he says, “and I had hopes for them to see that what God does through us at PFA is not the norm.” Their victory is a source of pride, not only for the choir, but also for the PFA community and supporters.

As the echoes of their triumphant performance linger in the hearts of those who experienced it, the choir is happy for the win but were very intentional about focusing on ministry and displaying excellence through the enduring power of music to uplift, inspire and unite communities for the cause of Christ.

The choir’s achievement highlights the significance of preserving and celebrating the rich cultural and spiritual heritage embedded in this timeless musical genre. As Jones says, “Gospel is everything.”

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