Press Kit

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Press Kit


Press Kit

Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Press Kit

altos paramount 2018.jpg
tenors Paramount 2018.jpg

About OIGC


About OIGC


The Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir weaves together a family of more than 55 singers from a wide range of faiths, races, and cultures-- joined in the mission to inspire joy and unity in all people through Negro spirituals and black gospel music. The choir and its dynamic director, Terrance Kelly, have captivated audiences across the world, from Israel to Norway to Australia to the Deep South, but they always stay true to their Oakland roots. No matter the venue, whether it’s the Paramount Theatre, San Quentin State Prison, Mercy Retirement Center, or even a small church in Selma, Alabama, the choir sings with the same passion and precision. When choir members hold hands in a circle before each show, they call out their wishes to send joy, love, and hope to everyone in attendance. And when the choir starts singing, audiences can’t help but jump to their feet, lift their hands, and allow the glory of the music to uplift them.

Founded in 1986, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir emerged from a gospel music workshop led by Terrance Kelly at Living Jazz’s Jazz Camp West. Since then, the award-winning choir has performed with a variety of esteemed musicians, such as the San Francisco Symphony; Vanessa Williams; CeCe Winans; Joshua Nelson, the Prince of Kosher Gospel; the Five Blind Boys of Alabama; and the Duke Ellington Orchestra. The choir also appears on Grammy-winning albums by Linda Ronstadt, MC Hammer, Tramaine Hawkins, and others.


Listen & Watch

Listen & Watch

Listen & Watch

Listen & Watch






Throughout its rich history, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir has performed and recorded with artists such as:

Electric Mayhem Band

Kim Burrell

Kid Beyond

Linda Ronstadt

Pete Seeger

Jennifer Holiday

Take 6

Timothy Wright


San Francisco Symphony


Barry Manilow

John Denver

Peter Gabriel

Joan Baez

Kronos Quartet

Duke Ellington Orchestra

Oakland East Bay Symphony

Joshua Nelson, the Prince of Kosher Gospel

The San Francisco Gay Men’s Chorus

MC Hammer

Lyle Lovett

Tramaine Hawkins

Carlos Santana

Bobby McFerrin

The Five Blind Boys of Alabama

Gary Oldman

Cece Winans

Vanessa Williams







  • 2015: Chosen "Best Arts Organization" in Oakland Magazine: Best of Oakland and the East Bay
  • 2013: Terrance Kelly awarded the Dr. Edwin Hawkins Excellence Award
  • 2009: “Best Church Music” from East Bay Express: Best of the East Bay
  • 2006: Certificate of Special Congressional Recognition presented by Congresswoman Barbara Lee for outstanding and invaluable community service
  • 2006: “Best Gospel Choir” from East Bay Express: Best of the East Bay
  • 2005: KQED Local Heroes Award presented to Terrance Kelly for his work with the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir
  • 2005: Bread & Roses Certificate of Appreciation to Terrance Kelly and the Choir for over fifteen years of music service to institutionalized audiences
  • 2005: Excellence in Sacred Choral Music award to Terrancy Kelly from the Academy of Gospel Music
  • 2003: First Annual Sweet’s Historic Ballroom Musical Soul of Oakland Award
  • 2003: California Music Awards Special Recognition for Excellence in the Performance of Gospel Music and the Preservation of its Heritage
  • 2003, 1997: Outstanding Director of the Year award to Terrance Kelly from the Academy of Gospel Music
  • 2003, 2002, 2001, 2000, 1999, 1997: Best Community Choir of the Year award from the Academy of Gospel Music
  • 2001: Bay Area Religious Announcers’ Guild Certificate of Appreciation
  • 1998: Oakland Metropolitan Chamber of Commerce Arts Organization of the Year Award
  • 1997: Gold Award for promotion of cultural understanding through music from the International Music Festival
  • 1995: Terrance Kelly awarded an Emmy for his choral arrangement of the Choir’s KGO-TV public service announcement
  • 1990, 1989:  Best Performance of the Evening award from the Academy of Gospel Music


The Choir has also received awards and recognition from city, state and federal agencies, the J.C. Penney Awards Program, and the Clorox Foundation Community Commitment Awards Program.


Artistic Director: Terrance Kelly

Artistic Director: Terrance Kelly

Artistic Director: Terrance Kelly

Artistic Director: Terrance Kelly

Terrance Kelly has been called everything from “a man of great passion and conviction” to a “demanding taskmaster” to “an absolute musical genius.” And to prove them all, he has garnered extensive credentials in both gospel and jazz music. His operatic range and jubilant emotion make him a popular soloist as well as an accomplished director, composer, and arranger. His credits include choral arrangements on albums by Linda Ronstadt and the Kronos Quartet and gospel arrangements of popular music for TV and video soundtracks. In addition, he wrote or arranged most of the music on each Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir album. Mr. Kelly received an Emmy Award in 1995 for his choral arrangement of OIGC’s KGO-TV public service announcement.

In 2005, he received the Local Heroes Award from KQED Television for his directorship of the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir and was also honored at the Gospel Music Awards. In 2013, he was awarded the Dr. Edwin Hawkins Excellence Award.

Mr. Kelly currently serves as Minister of Magnification at Oakland’s Imani Community Church. He has traveled as far as Australia and Israel to teach gospel music and, since 1982, has served as Gospel Choir Director for Jazz Camp West, hosted by Living Jazz. In addition to his other endeavors, he is a semi-regular member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus.

His father, the late Ed Kelly, was an esteemed jazz and gospel pianist. His mother, the late Faye Kelly, was a gospel choir director and pianist.



Recent Performances

Recent Performances

Recent Performances

Recent Performances

  • Kamala Harris Campaign Launch Rally

  • Holiday Soul with Vanessa Williams and the San Francisco Symphony

  • Global Climate Action Summit

  • One Voice: The Story of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir World Premiere at Mill Valley Film Festival and concert at Sweetwater Music Hall

  • Performances at San Francisco Jail and Santa Rita Jail

  • Bay Area tour with renowned Norwegian choir SKRUK

  • Holiday Soul with CeCe Winans and the San Francisco Symphony

  • Lavender Pen Tour with the San Francisco Gay Men's Chorus

  • International Interfaith Gospel Music Conference

  • Electric Mayhem Band Debut Performance at Outside Lands, San Francisco, CA

  • Celebrating David Bowie at the Regency Ballroom - San Francisco, CA

  • Performance at Mercy Retirement Home - Oakland, CA

  • Super Bowl Fan Plaza performance- Levi Stadium, Santa Clara, CA

  • Super Bowl City performances - San Francisco, CA

  • Bread & Roses performances - San Quentin Prison, SF County Jail, Crossroads Homeless Shelter

  • Nike Women’s Marathon - San Francisco, CA

  • 50th Anniversary Celebration of Duke Ellington's Concert of Sacred Music - Grace Cathedral, San Francisco, CA

  • Oakland A's Game - Oakland, CA

  • 49th Annual Montreux Jazz Festival - Montreux, Switzerland

  • Molde Jazz Festival - Molde, Norway

  • Godthaabskirken - Copenhagen, Denmark

  • 27th Annual Concord Music & Market Series - Concord, CA

  • East Lake Music Festival - Oakland, CA

  • Sing For America concert - Palace of Fine Arts, San Francisco, CA

  • Barry Manilow concert - SAP Pavillion, San Jose, CA

  • Spirit Week - Sonoma State University - Green Music Center, Rohnert Park, CA

  • Fundraiser for the Dance Palace - Dance Palace, Point Reyes, CA

  • Holiday Concert at City Winery - Napa, CA

  • First Friday - Oakland, CA

Recurring Performances

  • In the Name of Love: Living Jazz MLK Tribute - Scottish Rite Center, Oakland, CA

  • Black History Month Celebration - Freight & Salvage, Berkeley, CA

  • Annual Free Spring Concert - Oakland, CA

  • Imani Community Church Annual Revival - Oakland, CA

  • Annual Holiday Concert - Paramount Theatre, Oakland, CA

  • Annual South Bay Holiday Concert - Mountain View Center for the Performing Arts, Mountain View, CA

  • Let Us Break Bread Together with the Oakland East Bay Symphony - Paramount Theatre, Oakland, CA

  • Christmas Eve at Slim’s - San Francisco, CA

Other Performance HighlightS

  • 2018 Macy's Christmas Tree Lighting - San Francisco, CA

  • 2018 National Anthem - Golden State Warriors game, Oakland, CA

  • 2017 National Anthem - Oakland A’s, Oakland, CA

  • 2009 National Anthem - 49er's game, San Francisco, CA

  • 2005 Recording Academy Governor’s Award tribute to the Mormon Tabernacle Choir

  • 2005 San Francisco’s Black & White Ball

  • 2000 Israel Tour

  • 1998 World Games Opening Festivities - Portland, Oregon

  • 1997 Australia Tour

  • 1994 Grace Cathedral Mass and sermon by South Africa’s Bishop Tutu

  • 1990 Concert of Sacred Music with the Duke Ellington Orchestra

  • Oakland Coliseum Concert for Nelson Mandela

  • State of the World Forum, performing for Mikhail Gorbachev and many other global peace workers






"Voices from many faiths rise together in Oakland choir" excerpt

Kelly is talking to a group that’s something of an anomaly when it comes to gospel choirs. This one is made up of black folks and brown folks and white folks. He’s talking to Baptists and Catholics, to Jews and agnostics, to Hindus and Wiccans.

“Lifestyles, backgrounds, races, creeds, likes, dislikes,” he says later, “we’re all mixed up.”

This year the choir celebrates a milestone. On Dec. 5, it will perform its 30th holiday concert. Three decades is an accomplishment for most any organization, but it’s especially important for a choir that many doubted would survive a year.

Kelly has a shaved head and a long goatee (sometimes he’ll twist it up and tuck it away). His ears are pierced, and the night of practice he wears a choir T-shirt. On the back it reads, “30 years inspiring joy and unity.” He’s kind, but he doesn’t pull punches either. “I need spirit. Quit giving me mashed potatoes without butter and salt. At least give me some chicken stock.” (Not long ago, the choir got together and made him a list of what they call “Terrance-isms.”)
Kept it all together

In some ways, Kelly and the choir are one and the same. He was there at the beginning, and he’s there now. “I really believe — really believe — he’s been the anchor or the pillar of the success organization,” says Mark DeSaulnier, who handles the finances as the executive director. “It’s gone through some very highs and very lows. It’s run the risk of closing doors. It’s been through it all. He has stayed through it all. That’s rare.”

Talk to most anybody, and they’ll tell you he’s the reason any of this works. With Kelly, says Sharon Hymes-Offord, a member for four years, “the walls sing. The paint on the walls sings. He brought sounds out of my body that I didn’t even understand existed. He brings that out of all of us. He is a master at what he does.”

“There’s a strong spiritual connection with the audience in concerts and with the congregation in church settings — a back and forth of energy that builds up,” says Ben Heveroh, who plays the piano and organ for the choir. “Terrance is a master of building that energy. It can be a delicate craft.”

Ryan Kost
San Francisco Chronicle
November 26, 2015


"Nevertheless, this prelude could not possibly prepare me for what came after the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir with their live band came on the stage. Their cunning entrée executed by joining on the song ... while walking down the church lane towards the stage, caught the audience by surprise. Their first song – Lord, How Come Me Here? – caught the audience by their hearts. Sitting in the front row, I could not hold the tears in any longer. The music was not resonating in the church anymore, it was resonating deep in my soul."

Krystof Diatka
"Human Voices Made the Church Go Wild"
July 16, 2015
in response to Molde Jazz Festival performance

"Sunday afternoon at the Dance Palace was toned down shades of an old time revival, if you can picture an event like this in usually staid West Marin. The audience, many festooned in robes from choir robes to kimonos to bathrobes, packed the venue to hear this small ensemble of 13, the pick of the litter from the larger East Bay group of 55."

Ellen Shehadeh
"Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Brings Audience to Its Feet"
West Marin Citizen
February 5, 2015

Holiday pop 2013: Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir sings for the holidays

Terrance Kelly is a man of great passion and conviction. Those qualities have served his Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir well. Since cofounding the organization in 1985, Kelly has showed near-limitless energy and dedication in helping turn Oakland Interfaith into one of the world's top gospel choirs.

"Some people say I'm ambitious," Kelly once told me. "I just say I want what God has for us."

The choir's accomplishments include winning an Emmy Award in 1995, appearing on three Grammy-winning albums, performing with such stars as Linda Ronstadt and Lyle Lovett and touring the globe. Terrance Kelly and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir bring their holiday show to San Francisco, Oakland and San Francisco in December. Courtesy of Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir

Yet, the choir is always home for the holidays -- to the delight of its many fans. The group's annual December concerts are a cherished holiday tradition in the Bay Area, every bit as important as "The Nutcracker" and "A Christmas Carol."

The choir performs its 28th annual Holiday Concert at the Paramount Theatre in Oakland on Dec. 7; as well as its South Bay Holiday Concert Dec. 20 in Mountain View and its annual Christmas Eve shows at Slim's in San Francisco.

What is really great about these events is that they're equally suitable for longtime gospel music fan and newcomers to the genre. Everyone is welcome -- regardless of background, religion, etc. -- just like the organization itself.

Over the years, the choir's membership has represented many offshoots of Christianity as well as other religions. Of course, many view gospel as Christian music. Yet, Kelly sees the genre as something that can cross boundaries.

"Gospel often takes people from all kinds of races and religions to places they've never been," Kelly said. "You can cry your eyes out. You can lie on the floor and cry. You can run and jump. That's what it's all about."

The concerts regularly feature Kelly's innovative arrangements of traditional gospel music, which have included combining "The Little Drummer Boy" with Ravel's "Bolero" and delivering a reggae version of "God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen." It's pretty easy to see how those kinds of performances would appeal far beyond the regular gospel crowd.

The best thing about these shows might be that they illustrate how people of all different backgrounds can get together during the holidays. They underscore the choir's mission, which "is to inspire joy and unity among all people through black gospel and spiritual music traditions."

"It's a model of how the world can get along," Kelly said.

Jim Harrington
Contra Costa Times
November 19, 2013

"The choir is always home for the holidaysto the delight of its many fans. The group's annual December concerts are a cherished holiday tradition in the Bay Area, every bit as important as 'The Nutcracker' and 'A Christmas Carol'."

Jim Harrington
Bay Area News Group
November 11, 2013

“There’s no reason to be quiet about joy especially when it is sung by the angels…the way the choir members moved body and soul with welcoming hands opened wide, real inner smiles and bright, gloriously gifted voices gliding through texture and dynamics like sonorous lilies in a pond. That, ladies and gentlemen, spread the good time like butter to a biscuit.”

Jean Bartlett, Arts Correspondent
Pacifica Tribune, October 24, 2007
OIGC at Pacifica Performances Sanchez Concert Hall


“As a whole, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel choir gave an amazingly moving performance, angelic at times, delightfully complex, highly energetic, and beautifully graceful….In the end, it was met with appreciative applause and a standing ovation.  All in all it was an inspiring holiday performance that brought light and love and music to many hearts that undoubtedly appreciated it.”

Greg Land
OIGC performance at SF County Men’s Jail, December 2011

“The Charleston City Paper stated, in response to hearing OIGC’s Saturday afternoon performance, ‘There’s nothing quite like the way the spirit moves when a really good gospel choir–and their backup combo–get cranked up: it’s utterly contagious.’ They couldn’t be more right! In their final purely choral numbers, OIGC had the crowd on its collective feet–clapping, swaying and shoutingeverybody from little children to elderly senior citizens!”

Blog post
Charleston International Choral Festival, April 2009

“But it was on the steps of City Hall, spilling onto the blacktop of Polk Street, where the party played out in earnest. The Glide Memorial Church Choir and the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir performed some roof-raising musicinspiring pearl-and-pashmina-wrapped matrons to gamely sway along to the rhythm.”

SF Chronicle
OIGC performance at Black & White Ball, June 2005

“If you ever, ever have a chance to see the OIGC, do it.  You will have the time of your life....Run, run to get their tickets whenever you see their name.”

Ellen O.
Yelp review, January 2010


"This was my first year attending this event with my daughter and a friend. It was FANTASTIC–great for the family. I walked away feeling so happy. Great job to the folks who are responsible for putting this together. I look forward to next year. I plan to make it an annual event."

Review on Ticketmaster, December 2014
29th Annual Holiday Concert at the Paramount



Booking & Contact

Booking & Contact Form

Booking & Contact

Booking & Contact Form

Name *
Please select the group you are interested in booking
Date of Event
Date of Event
Time of Event
Time of Event
Does your event have a performance budget?
Please include the amount of music you would like the choir to perform and any special requests for repertoire (extra fees may apply)