Heavenly Voices sing their way to Austin

By Amanda Tolentino


Baylor’s Heavenly Voices Gospel Choir will sing at the 11th annual Austin City Limits Music Festival.

Austin City Limits is a three-day music festival held in Austin’s Zilker Park Friday through Sunday.

This year’s headliners include The Black Keys, Jack White, Neil Young and Crazy Horse and The Red Hot Chili Peppers.

The choir will perform at 1 p.m Saturday.

Ronald English, the choir’s faculty sponsor, said this will be their second year performing at the festival.

“Initially our goal was to reach out to people,” Houston senior Cory Smith, president of the Heavenly Voices Choir, said in regard to its first performance in October 2010.

Smith said the choir hopes to convey its love of God through music.

“We want to compel people with our music and show them the message behind it, as well as our love of Christ,” Smith said.

Heavenly Voices director Jerrid Fletcher said the choir has 50 members, but only 12 will perform this weekend at Zilker Park.

English said the selected members have either been in the choir for a while or are lead singers whom Fletcher has worked closely with in the past.

The Heavenly Voices members will leave at 7 a.m. Saturday morning, practice upon arrival and then perform for an hour.

Fletcher said Greg Adkins, who oversees the gospel portion of the festival, invited the group to perform in 2010.

“Greg is a gospel guru from Austin who promotes restoration gospel,” Fletcher said.

Fletcher said the choir received the invite from Adkins in early August, since then the choir has been practicing twice a week.

Fletcher said the choir was asked to perform “old-school gospel” instead of its usual contemporary gospel.

English described this type of gospel style as older songs from the late 1960s to the late 1970s.

“You take the words from older songs and put them to contemporary music. Contemporary music is ever-changing because popular music changes,” English said in comparing the two styles. “You use newer music styles and put the gospel on top.”

The 12-song set list includes music from Walter Hawkins, and songs such as “Oh, Happy Day.”

Fletcher said the festival experience is different than a church atmosphere.

Fletcher said his hope for the group is to understand no matter what the environment, people can still learn to worship.