40th Anniversary Celebration
Join in the celebration of the Inspirational Chorale's 40th Anniversary!
Registration Package - register here
The $65 registration fee includes your ticket to the banquet and mixer on Wednesday, October 18th, your workshop and music fees for the Richard Smallwood workshop on Thursday, your ticket to tailgating on Saturday October 21st, your brunch on Sunday October 22nd, and your reunion t-shirt! Banquet tickets are limited, so register early before space becomes unavailable!
This package DOES NOT cover your hotel reservations. Please see the Accomodations page for details on hotel reservations.
Reunion Welcome Banquet
October 18 | 6:00pm Reception, 7:00pm Banquet
Arkansas Alumni House
491 N Razorback Rd, Fayetteville, AR 72701
Reunion Choral Rehearsal
October 19 | 6:00-8:00pm
Walton Arts Center
495 W Dickson St, Fayetteville, AR 72701
40th Anniversary Celebration Concert
October 20 | 7:30pm
Walton Arts Center
The Chorale will perform at the Walton Arts Center with the University Symphony Orchestra and the 40th Anniversary Celebration Chorus. Featuring legendary gospel musician and multi-GRAMMY, Stellar, and Dove award winner Richard Smallwood. Stellar award nominee Kathy Taylor and Stellar award performer C. Ashley Brown-Lawrence will also join the stage for this momentous celebration.
Tickets are available from the Walton Arts Center
Tailgating on "The Hill"
October 21 | TBD
Arkansas vs. Auburn
October 22 | 9:30am
Faulkner Performing Arts Center
University of Arkansas Campus
453 Garland Ave, Fayetteville, AR 72701
(for parking instructions)
The Inspirational Chorale is one of the most successful diversity initiatives at the University of Arkansas. The ensemble began in 1977 when Dr. Harry Budd teamed with University administrators and students. During that time, Inspirational Singers, as it was originally called, provided an opportunity for black students at the University to express their faith and culture through music.
Under the direction of Dr. Eddie Jones the Inspirational Singers increased community visibility, participation, and musicianship. Under his leadership, the Inspirational Singers became an auditioned ensemble and a for-credit course within the Department of Music. He later changed the name the Inspirational Chorale to reflect this more formal structure. Dr. Jones served as the conductor of the Inspirational Chorale for over 20 years until his untimely passing in October 2014.
The Inspirational Chorale continues to keep the black sacred music tradition alive under the direction of Dr. Jeffrey Murdock. The ensemble provides a forum where university students, regardless of ethnicity, can perform the various genres of the tradition. The Inspirational Chorale as an integrated part of the Department of Music, the academic community, and the community at large has enjoyed an illustrious reputation performing for dignitaries and heads of state. The ensemble has appeared at national and international conferences and has toured to Beijing, China, Kilkenny, Ireland, and, most recently, Kingston and Montego Bay, Jamaica.
Current Program Facts
The complete Inspirational Chorale program comprises over 100 students each semester, making it one of the largest ensembles on campus.
The Inspirational Chorale members represent every college at the University of Arkansas.
The Inspirational Chorale appears in about 50 performances per year on campus, in Northwest Arkansas, and beyond.
The University of Arkansas Inspirational Chorale regularly performs at local churches in Northwest Arkansas and has appeared at the City of Fayetteville Martin Luther King Day festivities.
The program hosts the annual Arkansas Black Music Symposium, which is quickly becoming one of the premiere music festivals in Northwest Arkansas.
Recent research shows that students who participate in UA Inspirational Chorale for one or two semesters graduated college at a 64% higher rate than their peers. Students participating for more than two semesters graduated at a 78% higher rate than their peers.
World-class composer, pianist and arranger, Richard Smallwood has clearly and solidly changed the face of gospel music. He can impeccably blend classical movements with traditional gospel, and arrive at a mix that is invariably Smallwood’s alone. A diverse and innovative artist, Richard Smallwood has achieved many honors; Dove Awards and a Grammy also attest to his talents.
Richard graduated cum laude from renowned Howard University with degrees in both vocal performance and piano. His gifts were stirred up early in life. At age five, he was playing piano by ear, at seven, began formal training, and at eleven, formed his first gospel group. Richard Smallwood is attributed with many gospel ‘firsts’. He was a member of the first gospel group on Howard’s campus, The Celestials. They were also the first gospel group to appear at Switzerland’s Montreux Jazz Festival. In addition, Richard was one of the founding members of Howard’s first gospel choir, and The Richard Smallwood Singers were the first black gospel group to go to the Soviet Union.
Richard Smallwood has been honored by the Smithsonian Institution as a “gospel innovator and songwriter,” and his hometown, Washington, D.C. heralded two separate occasions as “Richard Smallwood Day,” also, distinguishing him with the Mayoral Art Award for “precision and excellence in artistic discipline.” Smallwood’s gift has made room for him to minister to presidents and dignitaries at all of D.C.’s halls of fame, including the Smithsonian, the Kennedy Center and the White House. Touching all areas of the arts, Richard and his singers toured with a theatrical musical, “Sing Mahalia Sing” starring Jennifer Holiday, which segued into a guest appearance on television’s “Ryan’s Hope” for ABC.
Richard began his recording career in the late seventies with an album simply titled, The Richard Smallwood Singers. The debut project spent 87 weeks on Billboard’s Gospel chart. The next project, Psalms received a Grammy nomination. Two years later, another nomination for Textures, the album that contained the classic, “The Center Of My Joy” penned by Richard Smallwood along with Bill and Gloria Gaither. The group continued to amass successive Grammy nominations with the following projects, Vision, Testimony and Live at Howard University. Richard continued to climb to the pinnacle of success, receiving a Grammy Award and Dove Award for his production of the Quincy Jones’ gospel project, Handel’s Soulful Messiah.
Richard’s music has never been confined to any one artistic genre. His song, “I Love The Lord” crossed onto the big screen when Whitney Houston sang it in the film, The Preacher’s Wife. The same song was also used in the tune, ”Dear God” by R&B artists, BoyzIIMen on their CD titled, Evolution.
Richard, with his group Vision, have recorded three projects for Verity records, “Adoration”, “Rejoice” and the newest entitled “Healing…Live in Detroit.” Bound to be another hit in the gospel music arena. The song “Healing” is a stirring ballad that ministers to people encouraging the discouraged, God heals not only the body but also the soul of man. “Faith” is a joyous hip-hop song, the Bible says we are not given a spirt of fear but of peace, love and a sound mind. We can move mountains with faith just the size of a mustard seed. “Holy Thou Art God” is a modern day anthem. “It’s a song of pure praise” says Richard.
Even with all of the secular accolades, Smallwood has never turned from the church. Bill Gaither says of Richard “I love Richard Smallwood because he is church, his songs speak to the heart of people.“ Like “Center Of My Joy,” Richard’s songs “Total Praise,” “We’ve Come to Praise Him,” and “I Love the Lord” have become standards in churches throughout the world.
Kathy Taylor, an accomplished National Recording Artist, Minister of Music, songwriter, producer, and community activist has been appointed for a time such as this to bring music that not only inspires, but encourages, uplifts, and heals the spirit and soul of mankind. Kathy is the walking embodiment of the term "Minister of Music".
Kathy's musical gifts have brought her before both national and world leaders. She has ministered before Queen Elizabeth, former President Bill Clinton, Senator Hillary Clinton, Congresswoman Sheila Jackson Lee, Rev. Jesse Jackson, Cicely Tyson, Maya Angelou, and many others. Kathy has received resounding critical acclaim for her outstanding, soul-stirring and inspirational performances.
Kathy began her recording career as a soloist with the legendary James Cleveland's Gospel Music of America and The Mass Choir. She was the featured vocalist on songs such as, "Anticipation," "It's Your Decision," "He Did It" and "I Got My Joy Back." These projects, along with her captivating and live performances have catapulted Kathy into the national spotlight.
In her never-ending quest to serve the Kingdom of God, Kathy answered her calling and foundedKathy Taylor and Favor, a multi-talented singing ensemble known for their meticulous and breath-taking harmonies. They have graced the stage with many of today's most renowned gospel artists. To their acclaim, they have released three projects to date. The first two albums produced by Kathy were entitled, "He's Worthy" and "What Would It Profit Me to Gain the Whole World and Lose My Soul?," which were both well received. The third album, "Taylormade," was released on Aleho International Records, under the leadership of gospel music executive, Al 'The Bishop' Hobbs, and produced by Grammy Award winning, legendary gospel music producer, Sanchez Harley. This powerful collaboration produced an incredible project that yielded a Stellar Award Nomination.
Kathy's purpose is tri-fold. She has fully embraced her mission to carry the gospel in song all over the world. Through Kathy, God continues to pour out His Spirit. Her dedication to the Body of Christ and limitless love of God places Kathy in a unique position to minister the "Good News" of Jesus Christ. Today, Kathy allows herself to be a vessel God can use to pour out His spirit upon all flesh, for tomorrow she desires to make the music relevant to the next generation. For yesterday, she stands humbly on the shoulders of her mother and grandmother to carry the gospel in song to the uttermost parts of the world.
C. Ashley Brown-Lawrence
Considering herself a "little country girl from Mississippi," C. Ashley was raised in musical and highly spiritual family in Moss Point, Mississippi. This upbringing not only gave her an immense appreciation for the arts, but also taught her the importance of keeping God first in all things.
Ashley’s calling to the music ministry was clearly evident as early as age 2, when she performed her first solo at her family church, Lighthouse Church of the Apostolic Faith. Throughout her childhood and teen years, Ashley could be found singing and ministering all over the United States. In doing to, her family went to great lengths to ensure solid spiritual and moral foundations. In time, Ashley began to perform with her father, Bishop J. Eric Brown, who was a professional Gospel artist. This opportunity solidified her dreams and aspirations as she vowed to follow in her father’s footsteps one day. Slowly, but surely, Ashley’s dreams have manifested.
As an artist, Ashley has been featured on numerous Gospel projects with established artists such as Oscar Williams and Perfected Praise's (lead vocalist: "Without God") and Hezekiah Walker, and will appear on upcoming music projects by Vashawn Mitchell & Friends and Benjamin Cone III & Worship. Throughout her professional career, her greatest dream had been to perform with her father. This dream became reality when she was featured on her his album "After the Storm," singing V. Michael McKay’s "Oh, Jesus.” A true renaissance woman, Ashley has enjoyed success the realm of theatre, performing gospel comedies such as "Paint the Whitehouse Black" and "A Family Affair."
In recent years, Ashley has continues to take the Gospel scene by storm, collaborating with artists such as Jeff Majors and appearing regularly as one of the lead singers of the nationally known gospel act, Hezekiah Walker and Love Fellowship Choir. She is blazing a path of inspiration as a solo artist and appeared at the 2017 Stellar Awards, with her new single “Victory!”
"My dream," Ashley says, “is to be able to travel the world making music and ministry my permanent career. I want so much to be all that God has instilled in me to be and it looks like the desires of my heart are being given to me day by day!" She is also currently signed with PEinc records, a division of Periscope Entertainment out of Jacksonville, FL as a new artist.
Reserving a Room
Hotels are extremely difficult to find during a football game weekend. We have set up a room block at the LaQuinta Inns & Suites in Springdale. You must ask for the "Inspirational Chorale Room Block" to get the reduced rate: Wednesday/Thursday nights - $99; Friday/Saturday nights - $189.
1300 South 48th Street
Fayetteville has no shortage of hotels, but bookings and prices increase dramatically for football games. Please make reservations early.