The Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir on Rhode Island Tour

The Classical School in Providence was one of the venues the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir performed on their Rhode Island Tour in October.

PLATTSBURGH — The Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir returns to its “House,” E. Glenn Giltz Auditorium, for “Motown Soulful Christmas 2022” Saturday evening.

The choir is under the direction of Dexter L. Criss, PhD., artistic director, and Andrea D. Ogle, (2009), associate artistic director.

Event emcee is Jacynth Joyce Johnson (2010), a Gospel Choir alum.


“Soulful Christmas is going to be our first Soulful Christmas back since 2019,” Ogle said.

“We are doing the Motown-feel Soulful Christmas. We’re excited about it. We’re going to be featuring another alum Kayin Queeley, who started the Montreal Steppers. He will be one of featured artists. They will be stepping at the show. We’re excited about our Men’s Group again. That’s going to do a really nice selection called ‘Rudolph.’ It will be really nice, really cute. We’re just excited to be back in our home, which is Giltz Auditorium. We call it our home because that’s where most of our concerts have been before COVID, and so we’re looking forward to that family-feel again to be back in our home auditorium and just really connecting with the community like we did before COVID.”


The first half of the program features the Gospel Choir and Band performing “Anthem of Praise” featuring soloists/alums Joyce Terry and Jimmy Terry, “King of Kings” featuring Joyce Terry, “Emmanuel” featuring soloist Anthony Waxter, “The Lord is my Light,” “Tell it on the Mountain” featuring soloists Nicole Massaro, Shanda Williams, and Barbara Jackson.

Special guests include Voices of Faith led by Brett Carpenter (1999) performing “Oh Holy Night” with narration by Bobbie S. Criss.

The Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir – Praise Dancers with leader Keely Huling will perform.

“You see like the traditional ‘Go tell it on the Mountain,’” Ogle said.

“You see the traditional ‘Emmanuel’ and so forth, but it’s soulful because it’s not the traditional version that people are used to. It’s more soulful. That’s what it makes it a soulful Christmas. The second half is what gives it the Motown feel.”


After intermission, the Montreal Steppers will take the stage.

The choir returns to perform “Joy to the World” featuring soloists Joyce Terry and Jimmy Terry, “Joyful Joyful” featuring soloist Keely Huling, trio Saryka Pierre, Winnie Daniel, Périne Pierre, and rappers Violet Mawere Malerie Mason; “The Christmas Song” featuring soloists Brett Carpenter, Gina Lindsey, and Jerrique Ortiz; “This Christmas” featuring soloists Alex Malson, Angie Pearson, Kat Gill, and Malerie Mason; “Rudolph” featuring soloists Warren Middlemess, Jonathan Ellwanger, Brett Carpenter, Dan Albrecht; and “A Christmas Wish” directed by Alexander Malsan.

“On the bottom, you’re see more of the Motown kind of tunes,” Dr. Criss said.

“The first half of the program is more soulful.”


Kat Gil, a music major, who graduates in December, is the only student remaining from the choir’s 2019 Soulful Christmas.

During COVID, the number of students dropped to 15-20, the lowest since 2001.

Now, there are 20 current students.

“We are not at our pre-pandemic numbers of like 50 and 60,” Dr. Criss said.

“We’re more like 35 or 45. That’s more than we were during the pandemic.

“We’re slowly climbing,” Ogle said.

“During COVID, we did shows,” Dr. Criss said.

“We did the Fall Finale, we called it the Spring Finale. The concerts were really very scaled down versions of what we can do. We haven’t had the band in since 2019. There’s only one student from 2019 that’s here now. So, the carryover you get is not there. We’re hoping that this will definitely inspire and open the eyes of students to what this choir is.

“That’s our challenge. Our challenge is trying to bring back that spirit of excitement that the choir can have. It’s very difficult when you’re starting almost from scratch. Thank goodness for the community members, who can bridge one class of students to the next class of students.”


The choir is energized from its Rhode Island Tour in October.

“That was fantastic,” Ogle said.

“It was good to get back out on tour singing in different communities in different states. It was really nice to go into a performance arts high school and bring gospel music there. It was really appreciated. The students really got into the music. They gave us the feedback that we are so used to and we know that gospel can bring that feel, that excitement, that joyous playful and dancing spirit and reaction to. They really gave a glimpse of that when we did the Rhode Island tour and sang at the high school. That was a precursor for the Soulful Christmas coming up. It was a good motivator for us and the students.”

The choir performed at Classical High School, whose most famous alum of late is Houston Astros Jeremy Peña, the MVP of the World Series.

“That’s pretty cool,” Dr. Criss said.

“One of community members, Dr. Molly Kasriels, she graduated from Classical High School. It’s about 350 kids. They were just on fire. Those kids loved it. We had a Q & A after, and they didn’t want to stop asking questions. They wanted to know about the choir. So, it was great.”



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Staff Writer

Robin Caudell was born and raised on Maryland’s Eastern Shore. She holds a BS in Journalism from the University of Maryland, College Park and a MFA in Creative Writing from Goddard College. She has worked at the Press-Republican since 1990

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