ADA - Ohio Northern University's Gospel Ensemble, with special guests Chris Byrd and the Philippian Missionary Baptist Church Choir of Lima, will celebrate its 26th anniversary with a concert in the ONU McIntosh Center Ballroom on Sunday, April 21, at 6 p.m.
Byrd, who serves as minister of music at Worship Center Church in Toledo, Ohio, has traveled nationally and internationally preaching the gospel and ministering in music. In his music ministry, he has worked with such gospel greats as John P. Kee and Rance Allen, with whom he currently travels and serves as producer and music director. Byrd's current standing in the gospel industry includes top 10 hits, national radio airplay and a full tour itinerary.

Adriane Thompson-Bradshaw, vice president for student affairs, dean of students, and director of the ensemble since its inception, says the ensemble began in 1987 with African-American students who wanted to share their heritage through gospel music. Over the years, students from various races and ethnic backgrounds have become part of the ensemble and help continue the tradition. The group's first performance was in January 1988 at the University's Martin Luther King Jr. Day worship service. The first full concert was presented in the spring and continues to be a yearly event for this all-volunteer group.

Gospel Ensemble members have included students, faculty and staff who enjoy contemporary gospel music, much of which is sung a cappella. In addition to the spring concert, members of the ensemble travel to area churches several weekends per month to share their musical message. Over the years, the ensemble has performed hundreds of concerts at more than 50 churches.