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Washington Performing Arts Gospel Programs

The Washington Performing Arts gospel music program has created a powerful sense of community in Washington, D.C. among people with a passion for gospel music and those who discover gospel through our choirs. Founded by former Director of Gospel Programming, Eric Torain, in partnership with President Emeritus Doug Wheeler, our resident gospel choirs—Men and Women of the Gospel (MWOTG) and Children of the Gospel (COTG) —have inspired audiences and nurtured both aspiring and experienced vocalists while bringing powerful messages of hope to the most prominent stages in the region for over 25 years. Over the past few seasons, we have focused on honing and amplifying the choirs’ level of artistry by forging new community platforms, partnerships, and an updated curriculum. We also established the annual tradition of closing the WPA season with a joyous celebration of gospel and African American choral music by producing a major concert featuring the WPA choirs and special guest artists.

We regularly collaborate with local partners, including the Washington National Cathedral, Southeast Tennis and Learning Center’s Blacks in Wax program, University of Maryland Family Weekend, and a host of artists and churches. A major highlight of our performance season is our annual partnership with Choral Arts Society of Washington to present Living the Dream…Singing the Dream, an always-sold-out concert at the Kennedy Center, honoring the life and legacy of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The choirs have received media attention for their performances that address current societal issues relevant to the D.C. community. Of Thee We Sing commemorated the 75th anniversary of Marian Anderson’s powerful performance on the steps of the Lincoln Memorial. Broadcasted locally on DCTV and nationally on BET, it featured performances and readings by the late Jessye Norman, Dionne Warwick, and other artists along with the premiere of the new work, “An Ave for Marian Anderson” by Ysaÿe M. Barnwell. In celebration of COTG’s 25th anniversary, choir members themselves curated an original program, Stay Woke, Still Woke: a youth-driven musical exploration of social consciousness and action with repertoire spanning multiple eras, cultures, and genres. The program was featured in a profile by NPR affiliate WAMU in June 2018.

As a part of an organizational effort to expand our digital footprint, a number of the choirs’ performances have been broadcast to audiences around the world. The gospel choirs’ holiday performance on the Kennedy Center Millennium Stage and their Concert Hall performance at Americans for the Arts’s Arts Action Summit were streamed to viewers worldwide. We are actively creating more projects specifically designed for digital spaces such as COTG’s “Why Do We Sing” (see link below) and a holiday project released in December 2020.

View gospel brochure (PDF)

Watch: Children of the Gospel Virtual Choir "Why Do We Sing?"

Book Washington Performing Arts's Gospel Choirs for an event

Washington Performing Arts's Children of the Gospel Choir and Men and Women of the Gospel Choir are available for special events in the community. An appearance will include choir, director, and musicians (one accompanist or a three-piece gospel band).

Please send a written request to our team at least 90 days in advance, including the following information:

  • Name of event and theme
  • Date, time, location
  • Number of voices requested
  • Number of selections to be performed
  • Any other relevant information about the event

A member of our team will respond to discuss details and potential contracting. An appearance fee is required.

To book the choirs, email gospelchoirs@washingtonperformingarts.org.