Minneapolis-based Excelsior choir has not only consistently lived up to its name, but continues to far surpass it. After winning the Stellar Award for Best New Artist in 2001, the gospel group has recently been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Choir Album for “Soul Interpretations”, the group’s second album through Verity Records. Minneapolis-based Excelsior choir has not only consistently lived up to its name, but continues to far surpass it. After winning the Stellar Award for Best New Artist in 2001, the gospel group has recently been nominated for a Grammy Award for Best Gospel Choir Album for “Soul Interpretations”, the group’s second album through Verity Records.
“This is very big and rewarding for Excelsior,” said F. Darnell Davis, one of the main songwriters on the album and a member of the choir for 12 years. “The Grammy nomination shows the tremendous growth and maturity of the choir. It is a true reward for the choir’s dedication and faithfulness to the ministry.”
“The album is a great mix of contemporary and traditional gospel,” said Excelsior director and founder Bobby J. Champion, Esq. “The songs on Soul Interpretations all come from within and speak primarily to God’s relationship in our lives.”
For Champion, this is an accomplishment in the making that goes back nearly 25 years to when he was just 13-years-old. Champion helped found the group with Carlton Wright in order to have a safe place for kids to get together, sing, and stay out of trouble. While only three original members remain (Champion, Kelly Gurley, and Brenda Hunter), the group has stayed consistent through its dedication to God and music.
“I like to say that Excelsior is not just a good choir, but a choir filled with good people,” said Champion, a private practice lawyer on top of his work with Excelsior. The group is made up of nearly 35 men and women from all walks of life and professions.
The group’s first album with Verity Records, God @ Work, received a lot of attention because of its distinctively contemporary feel. Excelsior’s latest album moves back to more traditional gospel music, yet with some unique songs woven throughout in order to remain diverse.
“We really felt the need to return to the traditional foundations of gospel music with this album,” said Champion. “However, there is a little something for everyone in ‘Soul Interpretations’. We go from traditional to contemporary without losing a natural flow.”
Songs of encouragement, reassurance, and gratitude to God flow throughout the album, including songs such as “Thank You”, “None Like You”, and “It’s My Time.” For people looking for something a little different, Excelsior offers rock-based song “Brand New Day”, James Brown-inspired “Never Lose His Power”, and urban hip-hop-inspired “All of My Heart.”