Music is God’s great and glorious gift, and Grand Canyon University in Phoenix shares that gift across the nation with its traveling vocal ensemble, the New Life Singers.
The group has 16 vocalists with a five-member band that regularly travels to share its love of music and Christ at churches, schools and other venues. The group will begin its third year with the start of the fall semester.
Director Gabe Salazar said the singers and musicians act as ambassadors for GCU.
“That’s what we’re here to do, to promote Grand Canyon University and what better way to do it than through music?,” he said. “It is the median to help connect everybody.”
The New Life Singers have averaged about 75 performances per school year in Arizona, Colorado, Texas, California, New Mexico, Nevada and other states. They perform a variety of music, including contemporary worship, classical choral works, a few Broadway selections and even some modern pop.
Auditions for this year’s group were held in April, and rehearsals will begin in August, Salazar said. Returning members must re-audition for their spot.
Salazar said the talent level of the group is extraordinary, and he has high expectations for the coming year.
“My expectations are extremely high for this year’s group,” he said. “We have a tremendous amount of talent and I know that with hard work, dedication and God’s favor, we will be able to do great things.”
Salazar said this is the first year in which members will each receive “basically a full-ride scholarship,” so he will expect great things from each member.
At the auditions, students are required to sing two contrasting selections. One selection can be contemporary Christian/praise and worship. There is also sight reading, pitch matching, aural perception testing and a 10-15 minute personal interview. Each candidate also must fill out an application, which includes five short essays, and provide two references.
Instrumentalists must perform two contrasting pieces of music at their auditions, and the group usually consists of two guitars, piano, bass and drums, Salazar said.
Jonelle Robson is a returning member who was brought in the September of her freshman year. She is now going into her junior year.
“I am so thankful for this group because it has helped mature me in many ways,” she said. “Spending so much time with the same people can be a very challenging thing. It has taught me to deal with that in a healthy and mature way.”
Robson said she is excited to see how the group will grow in the new year.
“It’s always interesting to meet all of our new faces,” she said. “New Life Is still growing into itself and I am so happy to be apart of that process.”
Christopher “CJ” James also is returning to the New Life Singers for a third year and will be co-president of the group.
“Being in New Life has changed my life in so many ways throughout the past two years and I am nothing but thankful to be a part of this ministry,” he said. “My favorite part about this group is the spiritual aspect. Being able to see so many different types of worship and meet hundreds of people while on tour is absolutely life changing. New Life is a great opportunity to follow my passion for music while still retaining and growing in my Christian values.”
Founded in 1949, GCU is a private, Christian university located at 3300 W. Camelback Road in Phoenix.
For more information, visit www.gcu.edu/Spiritual-Life.php.