In Joyful Praise 

The Villanova Gospel Choir unites the voices of singers from all backgrounds

By Meg Maxwell

Members of the Villanova Gospel Choir led by their director Ruth Elizabeth Winslow
Photo: Villanova University/PAOLA NOGUERAS

Every Monday evening, the Villanova Gospel Choir gathers in the John and Joan Mullen Center for the Performing Arts for songs, prayer and fellowship. Director Ruth Elizabeth Winslow begins by handing out sheet music—but the ability to sight-read is by no means a requirement. Winslow introduces melody and harmony lines slowly, and the spirit builds with each repetition. As the choir’s 27 voices gain confidence, the music is charged with emotion, and the words become worship. After experiencing what Winslow lovingly calls “God music,” choir members share challenges, intentions and prayers of gratitude.

“The goal of the Villanova Gospel Choir is to give students a place of peace, solace, restoration and spiritual enlightenment where they can form bonds with each other. College can be a lot, so we hope to offer space for connection—a chance to feed the soul,” says Winslow, who helped to found the group in 1994.

More formal performances by the Villanova Gospel Choir also include periodic worship services in Corr Hall Chapel, where musical selections include hymns, spirituals and a wide variety of gospel styles. This winter, the group kicked off two Wildcats basketball games with “The Star-Spangled Banner” and “Lift Every Voice and Sing,” and their spring calendar filled up with appearances across campus.

One of the things that the group’s president, Khabria Fisher-Dunbar ’25 FCN, loves most about the Villanova Gospel Choir is that the group is open to all students, faculty, staff and alumni. The group has no auditions or prerequisites, and people of all faiths and backgrounds are welcome.

“It’s an incredibly supportive, friendly community where everyone is eager to help each other out,” Khabria says. “It has helped me feel rooted in my Villanova experience.”


The Villanova Gospel Choir performed at Philadelphia’s City Hall as part of a celebration for Harriet Tubman’s 200th birthday in 2019.

Members of the Villanova Gospel Choir flank their director Ruth Elizabeth Winslow


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