The Regent University Singers are a talented, eight-member a cappella group that provides a beautiful and memorable music experience. Commissioned in January 2015, this unique vocal ensemble of Regent students represents the university and honors God through every performance.
Gary Spell, the Regent University Singers’ music director, says the voices-only group is the “brainchild” of Regent founder, chancellor and CEO Dr. M.G. “Pat” Robertson: “Two years ago, he called me to say that, as he was in prayer, God put on his heart the idea of beginning to incorporate music into the Regent profile.”
Soon, the two men began discussing possibilities. Spell says the idea of an a cappella group began to resonate, and the Regent University Singers quickly took shape. The signature performance ensemble is open to current undergraduate and graduate students and represents Regent locally, nationally, on air and at high-profile ministry events. Students audition to earn a place in the group and receive a partial scholarship for letting their gift shine.
“The mission of the Singers is to serve as musical ambassadors for the school,” Spell says. “In our first year, we have performed for dignitaries such as former Attorney General John Ashcroft and Republican presidential candidates Dr. Ben Carson and Jeb Bush. The students have been able to travel, cut tracks in a recording studio, shoot music videos and so much more. They’ve been stretched as musicians, performers and ministers.”
Inaugural ensemble member Ta’Varis Wilson is a 25-year-old from Augusta, Georgia. Wilson, who graduates with a Master of Fine Arts degree from Regent in May, has been singing in organized, faith-based groups since he was seven. His most memorable performance with the Regent University Singers was the ensemble’s first one: Dr. Robertson’s 85th birthday celebration in Washington, D.C.
“We were all so overcome with nerves,” Wilson remembers, “because it was our first time singing for Dr. Robertson, who commissioned the group. Talk about pressure! We prayed right before we went on, and all that stress and nervousness went away. It was awesome! I saw Dr. and Mrs. Robertson with glowing smiles on their faces.”
Hope Hukkeri is a senior in Regent’s College of Arts & Sciences. Her double major (Communication and Theatre) keeps her busy, but she wanted to “make an impact before” graduating in May: “I prayed for God to drop an incredible opportunity in my lap, because I didn’t have any idea where to start. The very next day, I was given a flyer with the Regent University Singers audition information on it, and I signed right up. … I am beyond grateful for this scholarship. I am blessed to receive an education and am even more blessed to have assistance in paying for it.”
Ronnie Riffle, a self-described “Navy brat,” is about to finish his first semester as a Regent undergrad. He auditioned for the a cappella group while he was still in high school. “It must have been a God thing,” Riffle insists. “My participation means that I’m able to use my God-given gift to glorify Him and to act as an ambassador for the university.”
The lone doctoral student among the Regent University Singers, Justin Sides, calls the scholarship he receives a “huge blessing,” especially since he wasn’t expecting one when he auditioned: “It’s amazing to get financial help for doing something that I did for fun.” The Grand Haven, Michigan, native says Spell’s “push for excellence,” alongside the caliber of excellence exemplified by its members, has made a big impact on him: “(It) seeps into other aspects of my life and makes me more of who God wants me to be.”
For more information about the Regent University Singers, call music director Gary Spell at 757.352.4844.