Drew Summer Music Institute to Feature Grammy-winning Ensemble

The Grammy Award-winning Jubilation Gospel Choir, led by Drew University alumna Stephanie Minatee, will perform as part of the Drew Theological School's 2010 Summer Music Institute (SMI), which will run from July 29 through 31. This year's SMI program, titled "Hands to Heaven: Playing, Praying, Preaching for a New Generation," represents an opportunity for church musicians and worship leaders to come together to develop new ways of reaching out to younger generations.

"The institute as a whole seeks to promote engaging, enlivening worship that is centered on spiritual transformation and social justice," said Mark Miller, director of music at the Drew Theological School and one of the SMI's facilitators. "We will approach worship and music from a post-modern perspective and engage in a lot of hands-on workshops."

The Jubilation Gospel Choir rose to national fame when it was featured in "Oh Happy Day: An All-Star Music Celebration," a Grammy Award-winning album by Queen Latifah. Jubilation singers can be heard on the album's title track, "Oh Happy Day." Rev. Stephanie Minatee, an alumna of the Drew Theological School and the choir's music director, accompanied Latifah to the 52nd Annual Grammy Awards in Los Angeles to accept the prize for Best Traditional Gospel Album. The choir has recorded in the past with such greats as Ray Charles and made appearances on "Today on NBC," "60 Minutes," "Entertainment Tonight" and "Good Morning America."

Miller thinks the performance by the Jubilation Gospel Choir will add special meaning to the 2010 SMI. "They are an uplifting, spirit-renewing, top-notch group, and every bit of their fame is well-deserved," he said.

The plenary sessions offered at the SMI will include "Liturgical Teamwork," a collaborative session for pastors and musicians, and "Really Working Worship," a brainstorming session designed to elicit new ideas about reaching out to nontraditional members of the church community. Another plenary session, "'Love at the Speed of Light' Sacred Youth Musical," will be presented by children and young adults who attended a 2010 summer music camp run by Miller and Rev. Tanya Bennett, who also serves as a SMI facilitator. Miller is looking forward to what he expects will be an upbeat presentation.

"'Love at the Speed of Light" is a 45-minute musical that takes a sometimes-whimsical, sometimes-thoughtful look at what science and faith have to offer in the midst of tragedy," he said. "The music and dialogue is fast-paced, engaging and often funny."

SMI participants may choose to attend a track of music or worship workshops. Music sessions will focus on topics that include keyboard mastery, Latin rhythms, children's music, percussion for worship and music ministry. Worship track classes will focus on preaching and leading in multicultural contexts, writing for worship, preaching with and for youth, and American Sign Language in worship.

The Jubilation Gospel Choir's performance, which will be on July 30 at 7:00 p.m., is open to the public. Tickets at the door are $5. The choir will perform in the Craig Chapel in Drew's Seminary Hall. A public performance of "Love at the Speed of Light" will begin at 7:00 p.m. on July 29 also in Craig Chapel. For more information about either performance, or about the 2010 Summer Music Institute, please contact Nancy VanderVeen at 973/408-3084 or e-mail

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