Gospel Male Chorus turns men into brothers, helps scholarship program

Published 12:13 am Saturday, December 28, 2019

Since its inception in 1995, the Gospel Male Chorus of Southeast Texas has entertained large crowds with their voices of praise.

“Just being able to see men or brothers out front in the community taking their role within the church singing together, and not only do they make a good visual impression, but they’re sounding good, too,” chorus director and Port Arthur native James Miller Jr. said.

The chorus will perform its 24th annual concert starting at 6 p.m. Sunday at First Sixth Street Baptist Church, 548 Abe Lincoln Ave. in Port Arthur. The concert is a fundraiser for the chorus’ scholarship program, and this year’s scholarship recipients include Wiley College senior Clonie Ambrose III and Wilson Early College High School senior Taylor Getwood.

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Jefferson County Pct. 2 Constable Christopher Bates, one of the chorus singers, feels a sense of joy and excitement about the group’s purposes.

“In the last few years, it’s been making sure we’re more community involved,” Bates said. “That’s where the scholarship aspect comes in. We just make sure we want to make impact in the community.

“I’ve been singing in the choir for eight years. When Bro. Miller had the vision to invest in our young people and get more young men to sing in the concert, … we want the concert to move forward, so you need young men to come in and start in the process. As an incentive, the young men that were participating would be eligible for a scholarship. There is a fee for the young person, but some of the men in the choir already sponsor them.”

For the second year, the chorus has organized a youth career program that puts youths in touch with motivational speakers, entrepreneurs and local role models and mentors.

“We also wanted to make sure to plant a seed in the young people and make sure they have different ideas of career paths,” Bates said. “A lot of times, young people don’t really know what to do. This is the second year we did a career day. Different people come in to talk about their careers.”

The concert has been held each year since 1995 with the exception of 2017, when Hurricane Harvey ravaged Port Arthur. The choir was originally known as the Eastern Star Male Chorus, then Eastern Star Male Chorus and Friends and Gospel Male Chorus of Southeast Texas as more men representing numerous churches in the area took part.

“It’s all part of the giving back,” Miller said. “Our vision was to work with the men and have them learn new songs so they can take it back to their communities. The career night was such a success last year, we decided to try it again this year.

To be able to hear from other people and see what they’ve done is a help.”

About I.C. Murrell

I.C. Murrell was promoted to editor of The News, effective Oct. 14, 2019. He previously served as sports editor since August 2015 and has won or shared eight first-place awards from state newspaper associations and corporations. He was born in Memphis, Tennessee, grew up mostly in Pine Bluff, Arkansas, and graduated from the University of Arkansas at Monticello.

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