After more than 25 years, the New Community Gospel Choir has its farewell concert planned for Nov. 12. The choir was originally made up entirely of New Community employees.
The choir was created by chance in 1996. All New Community employees were gathered for an event at St. Rose of Lima School on Gray Street. A choir from South Jersey had been hired to open the gathering, but they were involved in a car accident on their way to the event. New Community’s Director of Human Resources at the time, Cecilia Faulks, asked employees to step up on stage to open the event. Following the performance, the crowd applauded and requested more singing. It was on that day that the New Community Gospel Choir was born.
Faulks knew that Gloria Benoit, who served as NCC’s Director of Social Services at the time, directed her church choir and asked if she would lead a choir for New Community if enough employees committed to the group. Benoit agreed and has directed the choir ever since.
The New Community Gospel Choir held its first concert in 1997 and sang throughout the NCC network at all the senior residences, Extended Care Facility, NCC Parades and Festivals, Christmas Tree Lightings and Crib Blessings. The group also gained recognition in Newark and surrounding areas and was asked to perform at local churches and other community events. Over the years, the choir performed throughout New Jersey, in Upstate New York and in Pennsylvania. The choir also performed at Symphony Hall in Newark and Madison Square Garden in New York.
Although there have been no active New Community employees in the choir since 2007, the group has continued to rehearse weekly at Monsignor William J. Linder Plaza and retained the name. Faulks and Benoit are the two remaining original members.
The New Community Gospel Choir will perform its final concert on Nov. 12 at 6 p.m. at Monsignor William J. Linder Plaza, 233 West Market St., Newark. Tickets will be available for purchase at the door.