By Shannon N. Alomar
When you think of gospel music you do not expect the name Tupac to enter your mind, but the Hofstra Gospel Ensemble (HGE) found a way to incorporate his well-known poem, “The Rose That Grew from Concrete,” into their Joy Night this semester.
Choir director, Natalie Bethea-Surgeon, said Tupac’s autobiographical poem inspired HGE’s theme for their Joy Night this semester because it is hard for one to imagine something as beautiful as a rose growing from something as grainy as concrete, but Surgeon said that through faith and grace anything is possible.
Master of ceremonies Albee Mascall kept the night flowing and had a few moments where he even broke out into joyful singing, which added to the mood of the night.
“I am so glad to see the youth out here tonight. It’s a Friday night so you know they could have been somewhere else, doing something else, but they are here to worship the Lord and that truly fills my heart,” Mascall said.
Throughout the night of worship and praise, Surgeon read verses of the poem coupled with bible verses in order to introduce the different segments of the show. All of the performances kept the audience on their feet with their hands raised up high. No matter what someone’s particular worship style is, there was a group to cater to it.
Performances ranged in creativity, including singing by HGE and Hofstra alumni, praise dancing from Eternal Flow and Co-Op City United Methodist Church Dance Ministry, a spoken word piece entitled “Amen to Love” by Itiola Jones, the Flow MIME ministry, the Nubian Gents and Feminine Fire dance, step performances, and a live band that played for a majority of the performers.
After the final set, once everyone sang, cried and clapped their hands, Revered Andrew Lloyd invited people to the stage to have a prayer said for them or to give their lives to the Lord if they were willing. In addition to watching the wondrous talents the groups showcased to minister to the people, seeing people make their way to the stage was definitely a sight to see.
Lloyd asked those who remained in their seats to stand and raise their hands towards those who had bravely made their way to the front. As people began to close their eyes for the prayer he led, the sense of community in the room could be felt through every person there.
At the conclusion of the event, the president of HGE, Donnie Regisford and dedicated member, Willie Coleman, presented the presidents of Collegiate Women of Color (CWC) and the National Association for Advancement of Colored People (NAACP) Hofstra Chapter with HGE sweater’s as a token of appreciation for the two organization’s assistance in making Joy Night happen this semester.
“Every semester, we are just happy we can bring this amazing night of ministry to the Hofstra community. Being a college student may take you on different journeys and allow you to lose and find yourself. That’s why we love providing an alternative to an eventful night for students. In our judge-free zone, attendees can pray, sing, cry and give glory to the Lord,” Coleman said to wrap up the night.
If you missed Joy Night, attend the one coming up in the spring, you won’t be disappointed.