Alton Merrell

Alton Merrell, professor of jazz piano at WVU, a composer and a current member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra.

There is a new gospel choir coming to WVU with opportunities for students to learn about African American music and fellowship.

Alton Merrell and Shirley Robinson are co-directors of the new Paul Roberson Mahalla Jackson Gospel Choir.

Merrell is the professor of jazz piano at WVU, a composer and a current member of the Pittsburgh Jazz Orchestra. Robinson is a representative of the Advisory Council of Classified Employees or ACCE at WVU. She has been performing in gospel choirs around Morgantown since the 1970s.

The inspiration to start the student gospel choir came from the idea to start a collaboration between the School of Music and the Center for Black Culture and Research.

After College of Creative Arts Dean Keith Jackson, Director of the Center for Black Culture and Research Marjorie Fuller and Director of the School of Music Michael Ibrahim spoke with Merrell and Robinson, the new gospel choir was born.

The Paul Roberson Mahalla Jackson Gospel Choir is open to all students, faculty, and staff, along with WVU affiliated campuses.

Merrell and Robinson ultimately hope to have about 100 members in the gospel choir.

“Due to the negative impact of COVID-19, and students who

have graduated, we are starting fresh,” they explained.

The choir plans to have both fall and spring performances.

According to Robinson and Merrell, the end goal of the organization is “For students, faculty, and staff to have an intercultural African American music experience,

through fellowship, singing and playing gospel music.”

Merrell and Robinson hope to spread love and unity on the WVU campus and surrounding communities. Rehearsals for the new gospel choir take place on Wednesdays from 5:30 to 7:30 p.m. in room 2070 at the Creative Arts Center.

For more information, interested students can contact Merrell at alton.merrell@mail.wvu.edu, or Robinson at shirley.robinson@mail.wvu.edu.

Staff Writer

I moved to Morgantown last January from Dayton Ohio, but have spent many summers in the city. This will be my first year writing with the DA as I go into my second semester of sophomore year. I am majoring in journalism and minoring in political science!