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Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir
Hi there! I’m Thea Miller, my pronouns are they/them/theirs, and I’m overjoyed to be serving OIGC as the organization’s first intern! I am deeply grateful for the opportunity to work for and with OIGC this summer. I associate myself strongly with the organization’s mission; I believe in the power of music to bring many people together regardless of differences. I am excited to do my part to advance this mission over the summer, and to meet and learn from wonderful people along the way!
My family came to visit me and my husband over the holidays. On Christmas Eve, we gobbled down spaghetti and meatballs, then headed into San Francisco for the OIGC ensemble show at Slim’s. My family had never heard the choir before, and they were blown away by the performance. (Rightly so!) They were especially impressed with my two favorite songs: the get-up-and-dance “Jesus Will” and the tear-jerking “Worth.”
This past year, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir completely changed my life. I officially joined the choir last September, and ever since, I have experienced unprecedented artistic fulfillment as well as optimism about our world and the influence we can have in it.
We form this beautiful music called gospel by the traditional recipe of the human voice in harmonized chorus, the rhythms of the African diaspora, and the stories and melodies of America. But unlike most gospel choirs, we are an explicitly interfaith organization. To me this characteristic has two layers of poignancy. At first, the obvious: As religious intolerance justifies some of the most abhorrent violence throughout the world today, we stand as an interfaith gospel choir in front of the global audience as a basic refutation of this bigotry. But in the Bay Area, where religious dogmatism is not so often the most formidable threat to our social integration, our choir is clearly an example of racial and socioeconomic diversity that is increasingly rare. In addition to our numerous religious and spiritual persuasions, we are Black, White, Asian, Hispanic, wealthy, working class, old, young, straight, queer, and everything in between. I have never before in my life been a part of such a diverse family, and I can’t begin to describe how awesome it is.