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FSP class encourages unity through gospel music

By Megan Kelly
Correspondent

All across the nation, college campuses have been making strides to promote unity among students and faculty of all different genders and races, and the College is no exception. Protests, panels and presentations have been taking form across the states, but Educational Opportunity Fund (EOF) Program Specialist Todd McCrary decided to use a different medium to bring students together in harmony — music.

All were welcomed to join the students of McCrary’s class, the Evolution of African American Gospel Music First Seminar Program (FSP), in singing Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise” on Thursday, Feb. 24, in the Library Auditorium from 6 p.m. to 7:15 p.m.

The event was inspired by previous events on campus calling for equality, McCrary said. He had seen students standing on the steps of Green Hall last semester during a unity rally and later participated in the event.

“I just thought that was so beautiful,” McCrary said. “I think there’s a need to continue to have things like that to show unity and diversity.”

Smallwood is a well-known gospel singer and was accompanied by Music Director Bryant Pugh. He played the keyboard along with the group, helping each voice find the correct notes while giving advice in between running through the song.

“Oh, I love this,” Pugh said. “It gives (attendees) the chance the be educated about the song and about who Richard Smallwood is. It’s just a great experience… I’m just grateful for the opportunity.”

The group began singing along to a YouTube video that displayed the lyrics to “Total Praise,” practicing the song in its entirety. According to McCrary, there were no prior rehearsals. He said he chose to have students join together and sing because he feels that music brings people together.

“I think music has a connection with everyone, no matter what the song… What I thought was we could at least show unity through song and I think that’s an easy thing to do,” McCrary said.

This particular song is special to McCrary, which is why he chose it in the first place.

“It didn’t have to be a gospel song, but this was one that I find my peace and solitude with and I wanted to share that with others,” McCrary said.

Students of all different groups showed up to belt out the song, from members of the outside community to faculty members.McCrary had reached out to faculty members to invite them to sing with the students.

“We all work well together,” he said. “We live here and we work together, so we might as well be unified.”

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