Members of the University of Arkansas at Little Rock L. O. V. E. Gospel Choir are excited about the future and longevity of the organization thanks to the foundational structure set in place by its founders and staff advisor.
The L. O. V. E. Gospel Choir, or Lifting Our Voices Everywhere, started as an idea several years ago that sparked from conversations amongst graduating student Aliyah Joseph and UA Little Rock alumni Kennion Gulley and Jeremy Metcalf.
“The three of us grew up in the church and we wanted to create a safe space where we could worship God and provide ministry opportunities through singing for other students, so we often talked about making the choir official, and eventually, gave it a try.”
In 2014, the group began the process of formalizing the organization under university standards, but were faced with many setbacks.
“A lot of people gave us reasons why we couldn’t do it, so it just didn’t work out the way we wanted it to or when we wanted it to,” Joseph said.
Mia Phillips, communications and special projects coordinator in the Office of the Chancellor, caught wind of what the students were trying to do and hopped on board. She played a major role in helping the students to make the choir UA Little Rock official.
The L. O. V. E. Gospel Choir now has 20 members and meets weekly for rehearsals to prepare for performances at area churches and on-campus events. The group also prepares for its own concerts, which are hosted each spring.
To help finance their concerts and travel costs, the students host numerous fundraisers throughout the year. On March 28, they hosted the L. O. V. E. Fest in the Donaghey Student Center, selling chili dogs, chips, and other snacks.
The students didn’t meet their financial goal during the two-hour event, but they didn’t let that deter them from spreading their love. A postal service employee suggested they give the extra food to the homeless instead of throwing it out. Without hesitation, the students packed up the food while the group’s graphic designer ran to the library to print out notes with messages of encouragement to place in the bags.
After loading up the goods, the students drove around and passed out the sacks of food to the needy around the university and in downtown Little Rock.
“It was such a humbling experience,” said choir vice president Niambi Talley. “We’re so blessed that we don’t even realize that we take so much for granted. To me it was just a hot dog, but they were so happy just to have that.”
Joseph, the choir president, will graduate this semester, and although she will bid the group farewell, she will leave behind a lasting legacy. During the choir’s annual spring concert on April 21, Phillips informed both Joseph and Gulley that she would institute the Joseph-Gulley book scholarship for two outstanding choir members each year. Keifran Melvin and Camille Davis were the first recipients of the award.