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The campus and local community are invited to experience the contagious energy of the UC San Diego Gospel Choir and New Birth Praise while supporting student scholarships. Photos by Erik Jepsen/UC San Diego Publications

Gospel Choirs to Spread Joy at Lytle Scholarship Concert Jan. 29

Annual UC San Diego benefit concert raises funds for undergraduate scholarships

Clapping is optional, but it may be difficult to resist. That’s what gospel music is intended to do—get you swaying, tapping your feet and joining in the joyful harmony. On Sunday, Jan. 29, UC San Diego will host the 21st annual Lytle Scholarship Concert, featuring the UC San Diego Gospel Choir with special guests Archie Robinson and New Birth Praise. All proceeds from the event, titled “Yet Still I Rise,” will support undergraduate scholarships.

“This year’s Lytle Scholarship Concert will present both traditional and contemporary gospel music,” said Cecil Lytle, professor emeritus of music at UC San Diego, who started the benefit concert in 1995. “The UC San Diego Gospel Choir will sing the vibrant and affirming songs drawn from the American gospel tradition; while national gospel music star Archie Robinson and New Birth Praise reflect the spirit and sound of contemporary R&B and hip-hop.”

The campus and local community are invited to experience the contagious energy of both choirs at the Lytle Scholarship Concert, which will be held from 3-5 p.m. at the UC San Diego Conrad Prebys Concert Hall. For more than two decades, the concert has helped raise funds for graduates of The Preuss School UCSD who are attending Thurgood Marshall College at UC San Diego. Founded in 1999, The Preuss School is a unique public charter middle and high school for low-income students who strive to become the first in their families to graduate from college.

The UC San Diego Gospel Choir was established by Lytle in 1974. The undergraduate ensemble draws upwards of 600 students of all majors and creeds each quarter, and is consistently the most popular and populous class on campus. The choir has serenaded audiences throughout the western states as well as locally, from performing the national anthem at a football game to entertaining Marines at Camp Pendleton and singing for the late civil rights activist Rosa Parks when she visited San Diego.

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The UC San Diego Gospel Choir, led by Ken Anderson, has become the most popular and populous class on campus with often more than 400 students.

The choir is led by Ken Anderson, who was first invited by Lytle to be an accompanist in 1983 and became director six years later. Under his guidance, the choir grew tenfold—up to 1,600 members at one point. He teaches the course in the historical context, explaining that the songs, written by slaves, served as code to relay messages about leading abolitionists of the time. According to Anderson, these songs serve as the primary influence for musical styles such as R&B, soul, jazz, swing and rock and roll, as well as gospel music.

“People want to sing and they want to be musical, and I think that’s one of the biggest attractions,” said Anderson. “Gospel choir offers an opportunity to perform in a highly energized and exciting context, and to experience a very rewarding exchange between the choir and audience.”

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The Lytle Scholarship Concert will also feature New Birth Praise, a community choir led by Archie Robinson.

In addition to the UC San Diego Gospel Choir, the Lytle Scholarship Concert will also feature New Birth Praise. The choir was created by Archie Robinson, who was called to music at a young age. He wrote his first song, “Jesus Was a Little Boy,” at four years old and would sing at the barbershop while shining shoes. He later took up playing harmonica, guitar, drums and other instruments as a way to inspire joy in others. Today, his ensemble performs regularly at concerts, events and churches across the county.

The annual benefit concert has become a treasured tradition at UC San Diego. The event offers a meaningful way to make a difference in the lives of talented students, many of whom might not be able to attend college without scholarship support. By investing in their future, you empower stellar students to discover and develop their passions without the burden of financial constraint.

Tickets to the Lytle Scholarship Concert can be purchased at the door or in advance by calling (858) 246-1842. General admission $50; active and former military $40; and $10 for students from all schools. For further information, click here.