East Sussex based Gospel choir stole the show by winning BBC Gospel Choir of the Year 2014 Competition. Lewes Sings Gospel sang off competition from 5 other UK based choirs including the MOBO Gospel Act 2014 winner Living Faith Connections Choir from Barking, led by choir director Evans Ogboi.
Songs of Praise broadcasted two special editions to find the best amateur Gospel choir in the country on Sunday 28 September and 5 October 2014 on BBC One, which were hosted by David Grant and Josie d’Arby. The six choirs had to compete in from of a live audience and 3 notable judges; soul singer Mica Paris, vocal coach and MOBO award winner Carrie Grant, and UK Gospel artist Muyiwa Olarewaju.
The five year old choir was founded by Southover Church who had a vision to run a community choir from within the church and led primarily by the Church’s music minister Chris Steynor. With over 50 years between the oldest and youngest members, the choir attracts people of all ages and has grown to membership of 70 since the success of the competition. Members are able to join the choir without auditioning and with just a desire to sing.
[row][half]Lewes Sings Gospel entered the BBC Gospel Choir of the Year competition with only a month before the deadline. Within a week they had to record 2 songs as their audition and then found out they were through to the final the following week. Choir conductor, Karen Gibson had only a few of weeks to get the choir competition ready, not long considering they had never performed outside of their own church before! When asked about their reaction upon the announce that Lewes Sings Gospel had won the title of BBC Gospel Choir of the Year 2014, Choir Manager, Chris Steynor said; “ We came for the experience. We didn’t really expect to win. Not because there was any particular reason why we shouldn’t, but the fact that we are a non-auditioning choir and not from an area that people would expect a Gospel choir to be. So we really couldn’t believe it. There was a great sense of energy and excitement as well as a little bit of disbelief!”[/half][half][/half][/row] Since their win, the choir has had a number of requests and booking for performances and have found themselves heavily booked up until Christmas. On considering the future of the choir, Chris Steynor said; “We have been thinking about how we can perform for people as well as encourage more participation in gospel music; and also how can we continue to serve the town of Lewes.”
Watch Lewes Sings Gospel’s performance on the BBC Gospel Choir of the Year competition