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Voices of Faith choir sings a song of community

Aubrey Butts | Thursday, December 1, 2011

Music, community, fellowship and faith are four words that immediately come to the minds of Voices of Faith gospel choir members when asked why they enjoy spending time together.

“We’re more than just a choir. It really is a community,” junior Nicole Campion said. “Yes, we practice singing, but it is also a time of faith and fellowship.”

Director Eugene Staples, a senior and four-year member of Voices of Faith, invoked the group’s motto when discussing its communal and spiritual atmosphere, his favorite aspect of the choir.

“We are a student-run, faith-based choir,” Staples said. “Singing is my favorite part, but it’s definitely not more important than the fellowship and community. I really enjoy the group’s union of singing with doing something good for our Christian faith.”

Senior Amanda Meza echoed Staples’ remarks when asked about her favorite part of participating in the choir.

“The fellowship you develop would have to be my favorite part. It’s more than just singing,” Meza said. “We grow together in our faith, and this is something I really cherish and wouldn’t change.”

Voices of Faith, a choir marked by cultural, religious and ethnic diversity, provides a home for those searching for alternative ways to grow in their spirituality outside of an exclusively Catholic context.

“We provide a home for those who feel alienated,” Staples said. “I come from a Baptist church, and I still feel alienated by some of the Catholic structures. Voices of Faith really is a home away from home for those who don’t understand the Catholic traditions.”

Meza, also a member of the Baptist Church, wanted to continue singing and focusing on her spirituality as she had at home. She said she quickly discovered Voices of Faith during her freshman year.

“I’m not Catholic, but I wanted to sing Christian music,” she said. “I went to the concerts my freshman year, and they were extremely moving with their incorporation of Bible passages and prayers. I was looking for the Christian identity at the core of the Catholic identity. I was looking for something like home, and I found it with Voices of Faith.”

While the music initially grabbed Campion’s attention, she said the community’s diversity is one of the most rewarding parts of participating in the group.

“I really like having the opportunity to be friends with such a diverse group of individuals, especially considering Notre Dame’s relative lack of diversity,” Campion said. “I sometimes get bored with the mainstream culture, so the diversity at Voices of Faith almost represents a different culture to me.”

While diversity has always characterized Voices of Faith, Staples, Campion and Meza all remarked on how this year’s group has brought religious, ethnic and cultural diversity to another level.

“This is our most diverse year ever,” Staples said. “We are so much bigger and so much better. I guess we’ve done great marketing through our performances.”

Campion said the group’s constant clapping and cheering during performances often surprises people, but ultimately leads to an enjoyable experience.

“Energy is one of the hallmarks of our music,” Campion said.

Voices of Faith will host its winter concert this Saturday at 7:30 p.m. in Washington Hall. Student tickets are $5.