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Soul-stirring gospel music fills the Hackney Empire as six of Britain's top amateur choirs begin their quest to be Gospel Choir of the Year.

Soul-stirring gospel music fills the Hackney Empire as six of Britain's top amateur choirs begin their quest to be Gospel Choir of the Year.


Oh Happy Day by Sing Gospel
Hallelujah/Lord, I Lift Your Name on High by Harmony Gospel Choir
Draw Me Nearer (Medley) by De Montfort University Gospel Choir
Sofana Naye (We Will Be Like Him) by Manchester Inspirational Voices
Hallelujah by Lifted Voices Choir
The Lord Is My Shepherd by Sheffield Community Choir.

35 minutes

Last on

Sun 30 Oct 2016 17:10

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Gospel Choir of the Year 2016 returns to the Hackney Empire, a theatre that was built as a music hall in 1901 and has, for over 100 years, been host to countless performances. Since its launch four years ago, Gospel Choir of the Year has gone from strength to strength and is now firmly established as one of the highlighted events in the Songs of Praise calendar. This year, we return with six talented choirs from across the country to compete for the coveted winner's trophy.

Having had over 14 hit singles in the UK charts, we're delighted to have David Grant as our host for what promises to be a terrific evening.

Our first judge, Sharon D. Clarke is an actress and singer who's appeared in roles ranging from Lola Griffin in Holby City to the Killer Queen in We Will Rock You in the West End. Earlier this year she earned rave reviews for her performance in the title role in Ma Rainey's Black Bottom at the National Theatre.

Described as the "hottest worship leader to emerge from the UK", with his group Riversongz, Muyiwa Olarewaju will also be judging this year's six finalists.

Our last judge, Carrie Grant, is one of Britain's leading vocal coaches and a presenter on BBC Television's The One Show. She loves enabling people to sing better, whether it's individuals or crowds of thousands.



Harmony Gospel Choir is based in Manchester and is predominantly made up of students studying at the University of Manchester. They also have members from Manchester Metropolitan University and graduates working in Manchester.

The Choir Director, Tosin, has been with the choir for the past 5 years and when she is not leading the choir she works on many community-based and charity gospel music workshops and projects. The Musical Director, Dave, has been with the choir for 8 years. He splits his time between working in Manchester and Birmingham (where he is a lecturer in music at The University of Birmingham).


Sheffield Community Choir (SCC) was formed by Janine Dyer - the choir's director from 2013. Janine is a gospel singer who discovered her gift at an early age and gained experience through singing in her Pentecostal church. Janine has a strong passion to sing and to share the joy gospel music brings to people all over the world. Janine has lived in South Yorkshire for the past 15 years after moving from London. She really missed singing in choirs in London and wanted to bring and share her musical abilities within her new community. Through research she identified there wasn't a gospel style choir in the South Yorkshire community. Feedback showed that it was something people wanted in the area, hence her decision (with encouragement and support from family and friends) to start Sheffield Community Choir. Christ Church Pitsmoor kindly offered a place to rehearse for the choir and the rest is history!

Sheffield Community Choir is open to people of all races and backgrounds, with or without musical/singing experience. The choir is a great social outlet where members have forged new, strong friendships.


Wayne Ellington founded the Manchester Inspirational Voices and has been leading the choir for the past 10 years. Wayne wanted to share his gift of singing to instil confidence in others and empower them to sing with freedom. The choir has worked towards a shared vision of gathering communities from across the North West UK, Italy and Germany to support togetherness, faith and enrichment through music and singing.


This choir from Leicester is directed by Jordan Anderson, an undergraduate at the university who is only in his 20s! He's also conductor of the Emmanuel Apostolic Gospel Academy (EAGA) Choir, who were finalists last year. The choir are primarily students at the university.


Sing Gospel was started six years ago by Josh Cadman and Bert Routledge, as a community choir in partnership with St. Mary's Church, Acton - which is still their main base today.   

The belief at Sing Gospel is that everyone has a voice - they are open to all. This has allowed for a diverse and exciting mix of different backgrounds, ages and faith coming together each week to build community and sing uplifting and inspiring Gospel music.


LVC (Lifted Voices Choir) were originally formed in 2008 as a non-confessional 'gospel chamber choir' to sing arrangements and original music by their MD, Alexander Douglas. Despite the variety of backgrounds and beliefs held by its members, they are bound by a shared commitment to the same choral values - which is why they convene a few times a year from six different cities! Their music is influenced by the creativity of jazz and the discipline of classical music, resulting in a totally unique sound that merges the vibe of a chamber choir and a gospel choir, to create a different listening experience in which the message of the music stands at the centre of all that they do.  


Role Contributor
Presenter David Grant
Producer Garry Boon
Series Producer Matthew Napier