of Gospel Choirs & Choruses
As Dr. Thomas A. Dorsey traveled, the popularity of Gospel choirs or choruses began to spread throughout the country. It was through this that Dr. Dorsey saw a need to organize these choirs collectively into unions. As such, he founded the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses (NCGCC) in 1932.
Increased awareness of NCGCC gave rise to organization a convention. To accomplish this, Dr. Dorsey contacted many Gospel choir directors from out-of-town. With the help of others, plans were made for a convention of singers. Professor Dorsey along with Professor Theodore Frye, Magnolia Butts, Sallie Martin and Henry J. Carruthers organized the first convention in 1933. Unions from Chicago, IL, St. Louis, MO, and Cincinnati, OH were the firsts to join the convention. In that same year, the organizers published the first bylaws and elected Dr. Thomas A. Dorsey as president.
In 1934, a second convention session was held in St. Louis. There, Dr. Dorsey established an advisory board that institutionalized key activities. The founders clearly set the foundation for the growth that is enjoyed by members today. For example, Magnolia Lewis Butts, an adviser, developed NCGCC’s scholarship department in 1935. During the 1936 session, she also established Founders’ Day and Artists’ Night. In 1937, Dr. Frye, started the Vesper service. In 1938, during the fifth session of the convention, Ms. Butts started the Consecration Service. As the convention grew, the need to establish a department for the youth had grown and in 1939, NCGCC appointed Ms. Roberta Martin as the first Junior Department Supervisor. That same year, Willie Mae Ford Smith also founded the present day Soloist (Council) Bureau.
In 1942, Mr. Dorsey brought before the convention the Gospel Singers School of Music and Associates Artists. And in 1948, the convention opened dormitories to singers. According to minutes archived from the nineteenth session, the official opening of dormitories was held in October of 1949. Though the convention was expanding, annual meetings were still primarily held above the Mason Dixon line and concentrated mainly in the Midwest (Chicago, St. Louis, Ohio, West Virginia, New York, Minneapolis, and Detroit). That changed in 1953 when the convention met in Memphis for the twentieth session. At the twenty-sixth session, which was held in Philadelphia in 1959, the first known gospel musical drama was showcased. Accordingly, the convention inspired such gospel greats as Della Reese, Dinah Washington, James Cleveland, Aretha Franklin, Louise Shropshire, Mel Carter, Hezekiah Walker and more. In 1967, the convention established the Alumni Chorale in Houston. Because the convention was continuing to not only grow in size, but stature, the need to move from homes to a hotel was realized in 1972.
Perpetuating Our Legacy
In 1993, Bishop Kenneth H. Moales, Sr. was elected National President of NCGCC at the 60th annual convention session in Chicago, IL following Dr. Dorsey’s death. He was well qualified for the position, as he had served for many years and in various roles, including Youth and Young Adult President, Junior Board Member, and 1st Vice President before succeeding Dr. Dorsey.
During his tenure, Bishop Moales expanded and formalized NCGCC’s Artelia Hutchins Training Institute to offer training certifications and credits. Most notably though, he founded the concept of regionals for unions to meet, share, and expose neighboring communities and states to NCGCC. His vision executed proved very successful, as the number of unions had increased significantly. Bishop Moales had remained President until his untimely death in 2010.
Today, internationally renowned operatic singer and Stellar Award Gospel Hall of Fame Award recipient Dr. Marabeth E. Gentry continues the legacy of Dr. Dorsey, its founders, and Bishop Moales at National President of NCGCC, with over 50 chapters nationwide and members globally.