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Fresno State will be offering a gospel music course this summer, titled “Gospel Singing and Conducting Made Easy: Break It Down for Us.” It will be led by Grammy Award winning gospel artist Edwin Hawkins, the founder of the gospel ensemble Worship & Praise, James Hall and Christopher St. James, who has directed a number of choirs.

Big gospel names tune in to Summer Arts

The Fresno State Theatre Arts Department’s production of 'Gospel at Colonus' features a type of singing in the new 'Gospel Singing and Conducting Made Easy: Break It Down For Us' class, to be held June 29 through July 12.
Photo contributed by CSU Summer Arts / Randy Vaughn-Dotta

Fresno State will be offering a gospel music course this summer, titled “Gospel Singing and Conducting Made Easy: Break It Down for Us.”

It will be led by Grammy Award winning gospel artist Edwin Hawkins, the founder of the gospel ensemble Worship & Praise, James Hall and Christopher St. James, who has directed a number of choirs.

The gospel course is a part of the Summer Arts program offered at Fresno State. It is recognized as the largest and most diverse Summer Arts program on the West Coast with students from each of the 23 California State Universities (CSU) participating in the two summer sessions offering classes in music, theatre, dance, writing, animation, film/video and visual arts.

Adding the gospel singing class is something that Jackie Doumanian, CSU Summer Arts community relations coordinator, is excited about being able to offer to students –– especially considering the guest artists.

“It’s new for us,” Doumanian said. “ [And] Edwin Hawkins is the grandfather of gospel.”

Teiasha Moore, a 21-year-old senior, said the class made her interested in signing up for the first session.

“I had heard of the Summer Arts program, but I have never participated,” Moore said. “This year I plan on enrolling, though. I love gospel singing.”

The course’s coordinator, Fresno State theatre arts professor Thomas Whit Ellis, thinks it’s great that the university continues to offer such different types of courses.

“It allows the students to be experienced in all areas of music,” Ellis said.

Students concerned about affordability can look to scholarships for relief, as 22-year-old senior theatre arts major Brittney Carter did.

“Every little bit helps with tuition cost,” Carter said. “Yeah it is a lot of money for two weeks, but it is well worth it.”

Every year the festival provides a list of internationally known people in the theatre arts community. There are also a number of public events and performances.

“I have participated the last two years and I love it. The guest teachers are great,” Carter said.

Ellis shares the enthusiasm of the program’s successful collaboration of the students with industry experts.

“This program offers innovative and modern aspects in the arts industry,” Ellis said.”We want our students to be the best at what they do.”

Sign Up for Summer Arts
Students must audition or have a portfolio reviewed by Summer Arts in order to enroll.

• Deadlines are May 19 and then June 2 for sessions one and two.

• For program and scholarship information, visit www.csusummerarts.org or call the CSU Summer Arts office at 241-6090.