Under the direction of Emmy winner Terrance Kelly, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir brings together singers and instrumentalists who embody a community of diverse races, cultures, and faiths. They also share an uncontainable passion for music. Their mission is to inspire joy and unity among all people through black gospel and spiritual music. Judging by their audiences’ reactions—clapping, cheering, and singing along—it is apparent that they succeed in that mission.
Founded in 1986, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir was born out of a gospel music workshop led by the exuberant Terrance Kelly at Living Jazz’s Jazz Camp West. It became an independent non-profit organization in 1991, and since then, the award-winning choir’s exquisite harmonies and stirring gospel repertoire have led to performances with a wide variety of esteemed groups, such as Joshua Nelson, the Prince of Kosher Gospel; the Blind Boys of Alabama; and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. OIGC also appears on Grammy-winning albums by Linda Ronstadt, MC Hammer, Tramaine Hawkins, and others.
OIGC, referred to by SFJAZZ as a “treasured Bay Area institution,” was named “Best Gospel Choir” in 2006 and was the winner in the “Best Church Music” category in 2009 in the East Bay Express Reader’s Polls. Terrance Kelly was awarded the Dr. Edwin Hawkins Excellence Award in 2013.
To be certain, the best way to grasp the choir’s greatness is to hear them in person. A current public performance calendar can be found at www.oigc.org.
“There’s no reason to be quiet about joy especially when it is sung by the angels... the way the choir members moved body and soul with welcoming hands opened wide, real inner smiles and bright, gloriously gifted voices gliding through texture and dynamics like sonorous lilies in a pond. That, ladies and gentlemen, spread the good time like butter to a biscuit.” –Jean Bartlett, Pacifica Tribune