History of MCGC

About MCGC

The Montpelier Community Gospel Choir debuted in 1994 under the direction of the late Rev. Fred Shapiro and the late Andy Shapiro.  

EST. 1994

The Montpelier Community Gospel Choir debuted in 1994 under the direction of the late Rev. Fred Shapiro and the late Andy Shapiro. From its beginnings as a loose-knit group of about 20 people, the choir has grown over the years to over 60 members under the leadership of John Harrison.

In 2022, John Harrison retired after 26 years and has been named by the Board Artistic Director Emeritus of MCGC. We are indebted to him for his years of service and his legacy.  For the 2022-2023 Season, MCGC welcomes its second Artistic Director, Verdis LeVar Robinson, who will continue on the legacy and mission of the choir. 

Why are there so many White people in a gospel choir?

We are a multiracial choir singing African-American Gospel music. We have a deep love and respect for Black Gospel music because it is incredibly powerful, joyful, painful, real and emotional. We believe it is the foundation of much of what is great in American music, and are honored to bring this true American art form to the Vermont community. We strive to be respectful and intentional in publicly acknowledging the rich and historic African-American origins of this music and its creators. We are also passionate about offering and supporting anti-racism opportunities in our community. Please be in touch if you have any suggestions for us and to share your thoughts about how to build an anti-racist, multicultural community.

In additional to our main concerts twice a year, we sing for benefits, church services, prisons, nursing homes, and memorial services, but the heart of what we do happens at our Monday evening rehearsals. It’s there that we share with each other, open our hearts, take chances, and witness the movement of the spirit. When all of that carries over into our concerts, we are all blessed.

Over the years we have performed under the Gospel Tent at the Discover Jazz Festival in Burlington, Vermont; at Montpelier’s First Night New Year’s Eve celebration; and at the Farmer’s Night concert series at the Vermont State House. We have been privileged with the opportunity to sing with Tammy Fletcher, Vermont’s homegrown blues great, and with gospel legend Fontella Bass and jazz trumpeter Lester Bowie. 

Tammy Fletcher

Fontella Bass

Lester Bowie

Some of Our Past Concerts