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Our Hip Hop CollECtive Choir in our hometown of Eau Claire Wi
Our Hip Hop CollECtive Choir in our hometown of Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir performs at their 2018 ‘Where is the Love’ concert at The Plus in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir performs at their 2018 ‘Where is the Love’ concert at The Plus in Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir performs at their 2018 ‘Where is the Love’ concert at The Plus in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir performs at their 2018 ‘Where is the Love’ concert at The Plus in Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir performs at their 2018 ‘Where is the Love’ concert at The Plus in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir performs at their 2018 ‘Where is the Love’ concert at The Plus in Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir performs at their 2018 ‘Where is the Love’ concert at The Plus in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir performs at their 2018 ‘Where is the Love’ concert at The Plus in Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir performs alongside with Tandem, an organization that mentors 'at risk' youth held at the EWEC Service Learning Expo in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir performs alongside with Tandem, an organization that mentors 'at risk' youth, held at the EWEC Service Learning Expo in Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir performs alongside with Tandem, an organization that mentors 'at risk' youth held at Carson Park in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir performs alongside with Tandem, an organization that mentors 'at risk' youth, held at Carson Park in Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir performs at the Hope Gospel Mission Celebration Dinner, held at Grace Baptist Church in Lake Hallie Wi. Our singers represents a smaller group of our choir.The CollECtive Choir performs at the Hope Gospel Mission Celebration Dinner, held at Grace Baptist Church in Lake Hallie Wi. Our singers represents a smaller group of our choir.
The CollECtive Choir performs at the Hope Gospel Mission Celebration Dinner, held at Grace Baptist Church in Lake Hallie Wi. Our singers represents a smaller group of our choir.The CollECtive Choir performs at the Hope Gospel Mission Celebration Dinner, held at Grace Baptist Church in Lake Hallie Wi. Our singers represents a smaller group of our choir.
The CollECtive Choir performs at a block party and backpack giveaway in conjuntion with Ekklesia Church and the Kings Closet at Boyd Park in Eau Claire WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at a block party and backpack giveaway in conjuntion with Ekklesia Church and the Kings Closet at Boyd Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at a block party and backpack giveaway in conjuntion with Ekklesia Church and the Kings Closet at Boyd Park in Eau Claire WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at a block party and backpack giveaway in conjuntion with Ekklesia Church and the Kings Closet at Boyd Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at 'One Fest' located at the Chippewa County Fair Grounds in WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at 'One Fest' located at the Chippewa County Fair Grounds in Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at 'One Fest' located at the Chippewa County Fair Grounds in WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at 'One Fest' located at the Chippewa County Fair Grounds in Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at 'One Fest' located at the Chippewa County Fair Grounds in WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at 'One Fest' located at the Chippewa County Fair Grounds in Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2018 Jazz Festival, located in Downtown Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2018 Jazz Festival, located in Downtown Eau Claire  WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Baroque Concert, located next to Phoenix Park in downtown Eau Claire WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert, produced by Volume One Magazine, located at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Baroque Concert, located next to Phoenix Park in downtown Eau Claire WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Baroque Concert, located next to Phoenix Park in downtown Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Saint Patricks Day Parade, located in downtown Eau Claire WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Saint Patricks Day Parade, located in downtown Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Saint Patricks Day Parade, located in downtown Eau Claire WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Saint Patricks Day Parade, located in downtown Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Saint Patricks Day Parade, located in downtown Eau Claire WiThe CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 Saint Patricks Day Parade, located in downtown Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2016 'My-Life-Concert', located at the Shultz Country Barn in Eleva Wi.The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2016 'My-Life-Concert', located at the Shultz Country Barn in Eleva Wi.
The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 'GO' concert, located at Peace Church in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir performs at the 2017 'GO' concert, located at Peace Church in Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir prays for their city, county and state before and after every performance, rehearsal and activity.The CollECtive Choir prays for their city, county and state before and after every performance, rehearsal and activity.
The CollECtive Choir meets for rehearsal at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire during the warmer seasons without rain. All other times they will meet at the Lighthouse Youth Center in Eau CLaire.The CollECtive Choir meets for rehearsal at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire during the warmer seasons without rain. All other times they will meet at the Lighthouse Youth Center in Eau CLaire.
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The CollECtive Choir will present our annual Christmas program at The Plus, located at 208 South Barstow St, Eau Claire, WI. We will present from 7:00 pm to 9:00 pm, and we'll be looking for you!

For More Information Michael Rambo 715.894.0272

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Coming Soon

The CollECtive Choir will be joining the 'Uniting Bridges' Eau Claire MLKJ Commemoration' at 6:00 pm at St. James the greater Catholic Church. They are located at 2502 11th St, in Eau Claire, WI

For More Information
Michael Rambo
715.894.0272

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The CollECtive Choiris a diverse collection of people who are using soulful Gospel and hip hop music to proclaim the life changing love of Jesus Christ and pull people from all parts of Eau Claire into deeper community.  The music is original and covered urban gospel music, as well as arrangements of well known praise and inspirational tunes redone in a gospel style.


Together we lift up a new standard in praise to our Creator God, and his anointed one, Jesus, in the public spaces and wherever people would invite us.  We recognize our society's immediate need for genuine community and building relational bridges to people who are different than ourselves.  As we come together we seek to display the One-ness of the Church in Christ Jesus, and offer people in the Chippewa Valley a place to belong without needing to 'put on a face'.  We serve as a stepping stone into spiritual community for people who haven't experienced the Church, or who have been wounded by the Church.


We are a performing and recording ensemble and prepare to bring excellent and exuberant music to Eau Claire and the surrounding region.


To see our Vision, Values and information about us, click here

The choir is under the direction of Michael Rambo.

For More Information 715.894.0272
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In the Winter months, along with year around inclement weather periods, the CollECtive Choir meets at the Lighthouse Youth Center at 310 East Madison Street in Eau Claire for rehearsals (Our Headquarters).

During the Spring, Summer and Fall months when the weather is nice out, the CollECtive Choir will meet at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire for rehearsals. 

Regardless of location, our rehearsals are every Monday night from 6-7:30pm.

To know which location is being used, just drive by the Lighthouse on Monday evening. If you see the flag raised there, the rehearsal will be be there. If the flag is missing, we will meet at Phoenix park.

For More Information 715.894.0272


Choir aims to be a force of inclusivity
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The CollECtive Choir rehearsing at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir rehearsing at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi.
The CollECtive Choir rehearsing at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir rehearsing at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi
The CollECtive Choir rehearsing at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir rehearsing at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi

##Choir aims to be force of inclusivity, unity in Eau Claire

Members of CollECtive Choir, directed by Mike Rambo, rehearse Monday at the Phoenix Park pavilion. The choir is made up of members of all different races, ages, faiths and backgrounds who sing gospel hip-hop music in the hopes of bringing people together.

Standing in front of Eau Claire’s CollECtive Choir members Monday evening at the Phoenix Park farmer’s market pavilion, the choir director reminded everyone of their ultimate goal before a June 28 Sounds Like Summer concert series appearance. 

“Our goal is to be one voice, which of course I think is symbolic as well,” Mike Rambo told the group before leading them into the opening of his original song “For the Joy.” 

Of course that is the goal of any choir, but for this particular group it means a little bit more. CollECtive Choir is a community gospel hip-hop choir open to anyone of all ages and singing abilities. Rambo said the group aims to “sing exuberant praise to Jesus” and share that love as well as bring people together. 

Rambo also composes and arranges music for the choir. 

“We’re not going to just focus on the art, we’re going to focus on the relationships and restoring community, but when you’re in Eau Claire, especially the downtown area, it really values original art,” Rambo said. “We certainly have that as a part of what we sing.” 

The choir, which received nonprofit status in January, is set to release its first original CD. “Deep Love of Jesus” is a collection of eight songs recorded by the group and featuring musicians such as Tru Serva, a Minneapolis-based gospel rap artist, and local artists such as Eric Thompson, Adam Harder-Hussbaum, Jennifer Davis and others. 

While Rambo’s goal is to make the choir more known in the community by producing more original music in the future, he doesn’t have expectations of fame and fortune. He thinks what they have to offer is worth so much more. 

Musical collective

The choir formed as a vision of Rambo and his friend Phil Jennings in 2015. Jennings has since passed away, and Rambo wanted to see his idea followed through.

From its first rehearsal in 2015 that saw just three people, Rambo said the group has grown to around 20 to 25 active members, with many others who pop in throughout the year. 

The idea for gospel hip-hop, perhaps a unique stylistic choice for a city in northwestern Wisconsin, was born because Rambo said he thought it would appeal to a wide audience.

“I’ve found gospel to be very palatable to the general public simply because it is fun and it’s dancy,” Rambo said. “Even if you’re not from a church background, you get it, you know when to clap along. They are simple songs where it’s easy to invite participation even if you’ve never heard it before.” 

Fun, yes, but not always easy. Rambo said rehearsals can be difficult, but he’s proud of how far the group has come since its inception. 

“It’s a very demanding style,” he said. “We’re not awesome at it, but we’re getting better and it’s fun, and I’m learning a lot.” 

Gloria Godchaux recalls hearing about the choir in 2015 through an ad in Volume One that she thinks said something along the lines of “if you like to sing, come and sing with the gospel hip-hop choir.”

“That was very intriguing to me, the gospel with the hip-hop,” Godchaux recalled.

Three years later, she is president of the choir’s board of directors and the music still moves her. Even if she doesn’t feel like coming to practice, she said she’s always glad to be there because it fills her with such joy. 

Godchaux said hearing a couple of the new album’s recordings is still mind-boggling. 

“It’s kind of crazy that we actually have an album,” she said.

Most of the music on the album are Rambo’s originals, though the song “Holy, Holy, Holy” is an arrangement of a church hymn that Rambo said they “gospelified.” 

Rambo, an Eau Claire native who has been in several bands, has never directed a choir before this. He reached out to local musicians and friends, such as Matt Mattoon, the sound engineer for the project, for help. 

“Deep Love of Jesus” will officially be released during the choir’s Sounds Like Summer performance from 6 to 8 p.m. June 28 in Phoenix Park. 

However, Rambo said they will have copies of the CD available at performances before then, including one June 2 at Ecclesia’s North Riverfront Community Party at North River Fronts Park. 

He is excited to lay the groundwork for what could be a pivotal organization in Eau Claire, and he hopes that’s what CollECtive Choir audiences see this summer. 

“It’s really powerful as a medium to show Eau Claire different people sharing a platform together,” Rambo said. “The choir itself is the art, even though we do also aspire to be good.” 

Crossing boundaries

While Godchaux loves the music, she quickly learned the choir was about more than singing. By practicing in a public space — in the summers at Phoenix Park and the rest of the year at the Lighthouse Youth Center — she said they attract members of the community from all walks of life. It has led to an openness and trust between people of many backgrounds.

“The choir is a good representation that people of different faiths, colors, ages, can come together and be unified through music,” Godchaux said. “It is a good representation of what unity looks like.”

Since it began, Rambo said 15 different churches of various faiths have been represented. They’ve practiced with homeless people, youth at the Lighthouse, people of African American, Hmong and Hispanic descent and a wide array of socioeconomic backgrounds.

More than music, the choir is a place for community. And that’s what Shane Curren, who joined the choir as another creative outlet about a year ago, found.

“It’s not just a good group of friends or a place for me to sing, but I’m contributing to my community by being a part of this,” Curren said. 

Rather than inviting people to come to them, as Rambo thinks is a problem with a lot of church models, the choir has adopted a “we’ll come to you” mentality. 

This summer he said they are planning a block party tour by partnering with organizations in different neighborhoods to hold a potluck-style meal while the choir performs. 

“In general I feel like the trend is to get more isolated, more separate, and we want to reinforce community in the Chippewa Valley,” he said. 

He thinks the style of music they perform also allows for a wide range of connections, especially among those who might not consider joining a choir.

“We’ve just noticed hip-hop crosses all the boundaries. Most of the youth resonate with that style,” Rambo said. “I’ve noticed some of the Hmong kids or the Hispanic kids (at the Lighthouse), if there seems to be outside the grand culture of Eau Claire people that aren’t European American, all identify with this. It’s been a unifying language and that’s part of the reason I combine it with gospel.” 

Through the choir, Rambo also is tugging at conversations he doesn’t often see happening in Eau Claire: those on race and cultural differences. 

Removing assumptions

With 92.3 percent of Eau Claire’s population being white, according to the U.S. Census Bureau’s most recent data, it can be easy not to talk about those things. But Rambo said as the community continues to grow, those are conversations its members need to have. 

“I believe Eau Claire has been slow to enter the conversation — it doesn’t perceive (race) is a problem or an issue,” Rambo said. “We (the choir) want to be a part of not only the conversation, but we want to be part of the solution.”

Using that “we’ll come to you” mentality, he thinks the choir can serve as one of hopefully more entry points. 

“As we see an insurgence of African Americans and other subcultures coming to this city, we can be a wonderful welcoming mat,” Rambo said. “We can say ‘I know this isn’t necessarily home yet, but we’re going to take a step toward you’ instead of saying ‘act like us, try to fit in and don’t rock the boat.’” 

Tru Serva, whose real name is Marcus Montana, remembers the first time he heard about the choir while working with 513Free, an Eau Claire music and outreach program. He remembers thinking a gospel hip-hop choir in Eau Claire sounded “odd.” 

“Looking at Eau Claire you would think it’s all white people, for lack of a better term, and it’s weird to think gospel and hip-hop comes out of that,” Montana said. “Not that either discriminates, but it’s higher on the radar of minorities. If you want to make assumptions, you’d think country or folk music in Eau Claire.” 

Spending several years in the area, he now knows that is not the case. And after performing several times with the choir at the last two Eau Claire Jazz festivals and other community events, he said the choir and city have been welcoming to the music. 

That is why he thinks the choir is a great asset to the community. For those who may not only be unfamiliar with the style of music but also another culture, creating a safe space to start those conversations is important. 

“Music is the one thing that brings people together despite differences,” Montana said. “The choir allows people to get past a lot of biases or assumptions we have in our country right now, whether that’s racism or having prejudices against different age groups or economic backgrounds.”

Montana looks forward to performing with the choir during its June 28 performance because he “always gets a lot of love” from the choir and the audience it draws.

As the choir gains more attention, Rambo hopes to use the Sounds Like Summer performance to draw a wider crowd. He believes the choir still has a lot of room to grow and hopes to get its name out in the community.

“I hope there are even more churches involved (in the future),” Rambo said. “We certainly hope to grow in size and impact when we go places, and in skill.” 

Godchaux said the impact piece is the most important thing for her. That’s what she feels when she’s immersed in a choir rehearsal, and what she hopes others can see too. 

“My hope is that we would not only grow in numbers, but that people would be able to see the choir as being instrumental in bringing people together,” Godchaux said. “If I had a dream for the choir it would be that we would continue to be a light in the community — (to see) it is possible to have relationships with one another in a very positive way.”

https://www.collectivechoir.org

Contact reporter: 715-833-9214, katy.macek@ecpc.com, @KatherineMacek on Twitter


RELATED CLICK HERE - Main Events 5/27/18 (http://www.leadertelegram.com/Entertainment/local-entertainment/2018/05/27/Main-Events-5-27-18.html)

Cues from Katy
Cues From Katy reports about The CollECtive Choir presenting at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi.
Cues From Katy reports about The CollECtive Choir presenting at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi.

Editor’s note: Cues From Katy is a list of events entertainment reporter Katy Macek thinks are worth checking out this weekend.

1. CollECtive Choir at Sounds Like Summer (6 to 8 p.m. today at Phoenix Park, 330 Riverfront Terrace): Maybe you’ve heard about CollECtive Choir, maybe you’ve seen — or even joined in — their practices Monday nights in Phoenix Park or maybe you have no idea who I’m talking about.

##### RELATED

- Cues From Katy: Many ways to enjoy weekend festival

No matter which of the above categories you fall into, you should come to see this show. This is a community choir open to any and everybody, and the group recently completed its first album, “Deep Love of Jesus,” which they’ll debut at this event. It’s entirely original music composed by director Mike Rambo and sung in a beautiful arrangement.

Plus, they will be joined by gospel hip-hop artist Tru Serva, based out of Minneapolis, who is also featured on the album.

Musicians The Over Unders and Sage Leary will also perform. If you only make it to one Sounds Like Summer concert this year, make it this one.

2. “State Fair” (7:30 p.m. today through Saturday and 1:30 p.m. Sunday at The State Theatre, 316 Eau Claire St. $23 adults, $10 youth and military. cvtg.org): Come for Rogers and Hammerstein tunes such as “Our State Fair” and “It’s a Grand Night for Singing,” and stay for the laughs.

Chippewa Valley Theatre Guild’s production is the perfect send-off for the guild’s final show at The State. It’s also got a 40-plus cast of talented people, including father-son duo Geof and Gary Liddle, who plays the lead son and father, respectively, in the show.

The show is a humorous trip back in time to the 1946 Iowa State Fair Midway and features everything there is to love about a state fair.

3. Magician and comedian David Harris (7:30 p.m. Saturday at The Plus,__208 S. Barstow St. $7 in advance, $10 at door): Get your laughs with a side of awe at this show. Clear Water Comedy is bringing in this nationally touring and regional Emmy Award-winning comedian, who also goes by actor, magician and host.

Harris hails from Minneapolis, where he won the 2017 Minnesota’s Funniest Person Contest and performed in its 10,000 Laughs Festival two years in a row. He’s traveled the U.S. and Canada performing at clubs, colleges and other venues for more than 20 years.

4. Family Day in Downtown : With live music, a Doll and Pet Parade, performances by Swan Lake Ballet, the Torch Sisters and more, downtown Eau Claire is going to be bumping Saturday. (1 to 7 p.m. Saturday at Phoenix Park, 330 Riverfront Terrace)

Things officially kick off with a pre-parade picnic from 11 a.m. to 1 p.m. in Owen Park, but most events will take place in and around Phoenix Park.

Other activities include fishing demonstrations, nature-oriented activities and water activities in the Family Outdoor Zone. The Family Health and Fitness Zone will have a variety of classes and activities throughout the day and the Family Fun Zone will feature a petting zoo.

Plus there will be live music from local bands from 2 to 7 p.m. at the labyrinth in Phoenix Park. This is a full day of activities for families of all ages, so come prepared for a good time.

5. Northwoods Blues FestivalThis event grows each year since it moved to the fairgrounds in 2017 from its former location in Spooner. State Fairgrounds, 225 Edward St., Chippewa Falls. $35 one-day admission, $60 two-day. Campsites also available. northwoodsbluesfest.com):(music starts at 1:30 p.m. Friday and Saturday, Northern Wisconsin

This year features Saturday night headliner Coco Montoya, a passionate guitarist, and vocalist whose latest album, “Hard Truth,” is perhaps his best yet.

But the festival also includes other talented artists such as Jimmy Thackery, Shaun Murphy, and Albert Castiglia. Keeping with tradition, local legend Howard “Guitar” Luedtke and Blue Max will kick off the festival at 1:30 p.m. Friday.

TAGGED: CUES FROM KATY, STATE FAIR, NORTHWOODS BLUES FESTIVAL, FAMILY DAY IN DOWNTOWN, DAVID HARRIS, COLLECTIVE CHOIR

Editor’s note: Cues From Katy is a list of events entertainment reporter Katy Macek thinks are worth checking out this weekend.

Collectively Creating
The CollECtive Choir's story is reported by Emilee Wentland. presenting at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir's story is reported by Emilee Wentland. presenting at the 'Sounds Like Summer' concert at Phoenix Park in Eau Claire Wi

If given the choice, most music groups would probably rather play high-profile gigs rather than lowkey ones. It makes sense: Bigger venues lead to larger audiences, which will ultimately result in more exposure. One local choir, however, will gladly play either.

CollECtive Choir, a gospel hip hop choir in Eau Claire, has played an array of venues big and small since the group coined their name in 2015. Performing at events like Eau Claire Jazz Festival and Sounds Like Summer has its perks, but Michael Rambo, the choir’s director, said his favorite place they’ve performed has been Stanley Correctional Institution.

“When we went there and they heard that Hammond organ light up, (the prisoners) knew what to do,” Rambo said, his eyes lighting up as he spoke of the attendees’ reactions. “It was like home, it felt like home for the music.”

CollECtive Choir is set to debut its first album, _Deep Love of Jesus_, during their Sounds Like Summer performance on June 28 in Phoenix Park. The album, which will be released online just days before the Phoenix Park performance, has been a year in the making.

Without an album out, it’s complicated to tell the choir’s story, Rambo said. So, after performing for years, the group decided it needed representation.

The songwriting process began about 2009, Rambo said, when he began writing gospel songs, like the album’s title track and “Philippians.” Other songs, like “Majestic” and “Hallelujah, He Reigns” were written by members of the choir. These songs in particular exemplify the choir’s mix of gospel and hip hop.

On their website, the group’s mission is hard to miss, sitting directly beneath the choir’s name: “collectively lifting the name of Jesus through exuberant praise.” Rambo hopes to convey that joy in each of their performances, no matter how big or small the shows may be.

Ultimately, CollECtive Choir wants to bring people together while promoting their love of Jesus Christ. Along with the group’s inclusivity principle, they also have an “unorthodox” approach to performing, Rambo said. Their shows are always interactive, and Rambo said their songs are meant for getting up and dancing. Through these shows, the choir hopes to create a sense of community among members of the choir and members of the community.

“We wanna host block parties in neighborhoods that other people maybe avoid,” Rambo said. “And … in micro ways, (we’re) trying to bring people together who might not be together.”

CollECtive Choir doesn’t only take singers with angelic voices, Rambo said, but instead they display inclusivity by accepting everyone, regardless of their singing abilities. In the past, the choir has even had homeless individuals join in, Rambo said.

“While we do shoot for excellence, we’re not the Master Singers,” Rambo explained. “... We’re going to include everyone and improve incrementally according to their skillset. But together, we can accomplish great things.”

The group is composed of about 25 regular members – each of whom sing on a volunteer basis – but it varies from season to season, Rambo said. The number of members changes with each of the choir’s concert runs, which last six weeks at a time. Their current run is in preparation for their Sounds Like Summer performance. Members are asked to commit at least six weeks to the choir, which amounts to five practices and one show.

ImageRambo said the choir doesn’t plan to have a short-term run and they intend to be around for a long time. In the next two years, Rambo hopes the Eau Claire community will recognize and know about CollECtive Choir.

The CollECtive Choir practices 6-7:30pm Monday nights at the Lighthouse Youth Center, 310 E. Madison St. Their next performance is set for Thursday, June 28 at the Sounds Like Summer Concert Series in Phoenix Park. 

##### THIS WAS MADE BY

### Emilee Wentland  _author_

View more of Emilee Wentland's work »

Community Chorus
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The CollECtive Choir rehearsing at The Lighthouse in Eau Claire Wi.The CollECtive Choir rehearsing at The Lighthouse in Eau Claire Wi.

Community Chorus

A joyous song erupts over the still evening asphalt. Each and every harmonious note that floats up into the blackened sky seems to rise from somewhere deep within the gutters of the city, causing curious passersby to halt suddenly in their paths. A closer listen reveals the sound of many distinct voices – a beautiful collection of altos and sopranos and tenors singing in passionate unison to a keyboard’s simple chords.

In a single leap of faith, one man has taken the role of building a choral group from the ground up and of leading it into the community, one spirit-filled note at a time. Under the direction of Eau Claire native Michael Rambo, the CollECtive Choir has arrived on the scene and is gaining momentum as the city’s newest singing ensemble. In April, the gospel-style choir officially set up shop in the Lighthouse Youth Center, 310 E. Madison St. And just as the name of the headquarters implies, the group has become a beacon of light for people of all walks of life.

“In a choir, it’s not about a star. It’s about singing together. When we sing together in community, it changes the atmosphere.” – Michael Rambo, CollECtive Choir director

The idea behind the CollECtive Choir blossomed from a seed planted during Rambo’s time as worship director for Eau Claire’s Tabernacle of Praise Church. Determined to create a downtown choir for area youth, one friend and fellow churchgoer enlisted Rambo’s help to get the project’s gears churning. The director was hesitant at first, but at his friend’s continued persistence, Rambo finally decided it was time to move ahead with the plans that had long been simmering on the backburner.

And while the choir veered from the original plan of being youth-only, it instead evolved into a group that welcomes anyone and everyone in the aim of fostering community.

In Rambo’s estimation, togetherness and the pursuit of unity are what make up the choir’s heart and soul.

“Everybody’s connected as a family,” Rambo said. “I just hope to show the world we are united – we are one.”

After graduation from UW-Eau Claire in 2004 with a degree in vocal performance, Rambo served in various churches within the community as worship director. It was through those positions that the musician was able to hone his skills of arranging, leading, and singing, soon acquiring all the necessary tools to direct a diverse group of voices.

Deciding to join the choir was no question for Connie Hagen, who has known Rambo his entire life and attends Peace Lutheran in Eau Claire where Rambo works. “When he announced he was starting a choir, I was all in,” Hagen said. “It’s such a blessing to work with Michael. He’s an amazing teacher and has an amazing knowledge of music.”

The CollECtive Choir has even adopted its own unique sound that blends gospel, soul, jazz, and hip-hop – a style Rambo hopes will be able to transcend the stigmas surrounding modern church songs.

“The contemporary church is still considered subpar regarding music,” Rambo said. “Gospel music is one of the ways it actually excels, so we’ve been developing our own brand of Northern gospel.”

So where is this grassroots choral group headed now? While optimistic, Rambo believes it will require plenty of time for the Eau Claire community to really take notice of the choir and its mission.

“It’ll take a while,” Rambo said. “We have a saying in the church: ‘If you’re going to move the organ, you’re going to have to move it an inch at a time.’ ”

But while numbers and recognition are always a plus, Hagen believes true fulfillment comes simply from singing songs of praise with the other members.

“The choir brings a smile to my face and puts joy in my heart,” Hagen said. Regardless of what the future holds for Rambo and his troupe of singers, the director’s ultimate hope is for his choir to be an inspiration within the community.

“I want it to be a joyful, shining light in this city,” Rambo said.

And just maybe – as some unsuspecting pedestrian meanders downtown some evening – a single, spirited sound coiling into the starry night will be exactly that.


A CollECtive Choir Christmas (With Friends) • Sunday, Dec. 13, 7-9pm • The Plus, 208 S. Barstow St., Eau Claire • FREE • (715) 832-8844 •


Nikki Lanzer  author

Andrea Paulseth  photographer

     

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