Gospel in the Gorge

May 29-31, 2020 – Canceled – We hope to reschedule

with LaRhonda Steele, Terrance Kelly, Marilyn Keller and John Gainer

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Become a keeper of the gospel music tradition! Join other singers for a weekend immersion in gospel music culture. Emerge with a song in your heart and a deeper understanding of this uniquely American art form.

  • Learn gospel music history from Negro spirituals to contemporary gospel songs.
  • Gain vocal techniques to make your singing stronger and more soulful.
  • Enrich your understanding of the instrumental side of gospel music.
  • Come to understand what gospel greats mean when they talk about “embodying” gospel music.

You’ll be in the hands of elite instructors including internationally known artists LaRhonda Steele, Artistic Director of the Portland Interfaith Gospel Choir and Terrance Kelly, Artistic Director of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir.

Want to know more? Check out the tabs below for all the instructors’ bios, schedule and costs.

We can’t wait to hear the sounds of gospel music in the Gorge! Come and sing with us!

“Nothing can top an in-person and in-community experience of gospel. No background needed – just the desire to go deep. And you don’t have to belong to a church at all – you just need to love to sing.” –LaRhonda Steele


LARHONDA STEELE, Artistic Director of Gospel in the Gorge
Director and co-founder of the Portland Interfaith Gospel Choir

LaRhonda won the Cascade Blues Association’s Muddy Award for Best Female Vocalist in 2016, 2017, and 2018 and is now a member of their Hall of Fame.

A few career highlights:

          • Multiple performances in Porretta, Italy at the Porretta Soul Festival, the most prestigious European event dedicated entirely to American soul and rhythm & blues music
          • Performing at the Lincoln Center with Obo Addy in 2005
          • Yearly appearances at the Safeway Waterfront Blues Festival in Portland

LaRhonda has enjoyed performing and recording with local, national and international artists including Curtis Salgado, Norman Sylvester, Janice Marie Scroggins, Lisa Mann and Gino Vannelli.

Her CDs include: My Soul’s Song, Artistic Differences, Rock Me Baby (with King Louie) and Yes, Please (with Ed Snyder).

As founding artistic director of Gospel in the Gorge, LaRhonda is so excited about the maiden voyage of this event…and dreams that future ones may be several days longer!


Amazing Grace

Porretta Soul Festival set of Take Me to the River, Rock Me Baby, It’s Your Thing



Director and co-founder of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir

Terrance Kelly has been called everything from “a man of great passion and conviction” to a “demanding taskmaster” to “an absolute musical genius.” And to prove them all, he has garnered extensive credentials in both gospel and jazz music. His operatic range and jubilant emotion make him a popular soloist as well as an accomplished director, composer, and arranger. His credits include choral arrangements on albums by Linda Ronstadt and the Kronos Quartet, and gospel arrangements of popular music for TV and video soundtracks. In addition, he wrote or arranged most of the music on each Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir album.

Terrance received an Emmy Award in 1995 for his choral arrangement of OIGC’s KGO-TV public service announcement. In 2005, he received a “Local Heroes Award” from KQED Television for his directorship of the Oakland Interfaith Youth Choir and was also honored at the Gospel Music Awards. In 2013, he was awarded the Dr. Edwin Hawkins Excellence Award. October 17, 2015 was proclaimed “Terrance Kelly Day” by the office of the Oakland mayor.

Terrance currently serves as Minister of Magnification at Oakland’s Imani Community Church. He has traveled as far as Australia and Israel teaching gospel music and, since 1982, has served as Gospel Choir Director for Jazz Camp West, hosted by Living Jazz. In addition to his other endeavors, he is a semi-regular member of the San Francisco Opera Chorus.

His father, the late Ed Kelly, was an esteemed jazz and gospel pianist. His mother, the late Faye Kelly, was a gospel choir director and pianist.


PBS News Hour segment interviews Terrance Kelly “This Choir Finds Harmony in Different Faiths

Terrance Kelly directs Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir in Bless This House



2016 Jazz Society of Oregon Hall of Fame Inductee

Marilyn Keller is a 38-year veteran of music and stage performance in Jazz, Gospel, R&B, Pop, Blues, and theater, nationally and internationally. Her musical roots are diverse. Marilyn has built a career that has taken her as a feature artist to Denmark, Sweden, Norway, The Netherlands, Spain, Australia, Russia and the UK for concerts, festivals, nightclubs and recording work. Her voice can be heard on multiple recordings, movie sound tracks, commercials and documentaries.

Marilyn’s formative jazz training was as a member of the Mt. Hood Community College Vocal Jazz Ensemble and as the vocalist fronting the award-winning MHCC Jazz Lab Band. She can be seen frequently at clubs, restaurants, festivals and holiday events throughout the Pacific Northwest. She remains active, performing with Don Latarski, Darrell Grant, Tom Grant, Black Swan Classic Jazz Band, Pressure Point Band and the Augustana Jazz Quartet, among many others.



Hallelujah with Alonzo Chadwick at Portland’s Gospel Christmas

Like a Mountain/You Can’t Kill the Spirit





Instructor of Gospel at University of Oregon
Founding director of Inspirational Sounds Community Choir of Eugene, Oregon

Inspirational Sounds is regarded as one of the best Gospel choirs in the Pacific Northwest.  In May 1987, invited to perform at the Great American Gospel Gala at the world renowned Lincoln Center for the Performing Arts in New York, NY. The group has performed with recording artists Rodena Preston-Williams, Rickey Grundy, Gerrye Gallagher, Helen Stephens, Kurt Carr, Steven Roberts, Pamela Davis, Arvis Strickling-Jones, Neal Jones & Darriel Menefee. The group has recorded background vocals for a couple of artists as well as two live CD releases of their 1997 & 1998 annual concerts. At the 1990 Gospel Music Workshop of America National Board Meeting the choir received favorable accolades from Rev. James Cleveland, the “King” of Gospel Music, and received a gracious standing ovation from the delegates.


Zulu Song 

Hush with Portland Interfaith Gospel Choir




The Portland Interfaith Gospel Choir (PIGC) is a community-based interfaith choir and non-profit.  We aim to inspire joy and unity through traditional black gospel traditions that foster cross-cultural and cross-racial understanding and connection. We strongly believe that gospel music has the power to heal and unite.

In addition to our concert performances, we are constantly looking for new ways to expand our community-outreach efforts. PIGC proudly partners with community-based organizations that also promote and celebrate diversity, social justice, equality, and peace.

Mission Statement

The Portland Interfaith Gospel Choir’s mission is to employ gospel music to express the power of Spirit and bring a message of faith, hope, love and joy to our community, the country and the world; to exemplify through interfaith, multiracial, and multicultural membership the principles of equality, justice, peace, unity and cooperation; and to serve as a model for what is possible among people.



Costs are per person.

For this event, there are no single occupancy rooms available.

Triple Occupancy Lodging: 3 persons/room, bathroom in hall or room Program Fee $255 + Meals $83 + Lodging $125 = $463 2 Nights + 6 Meals
Double Occupancy Lodging: 2 persons/room, bathroom in room Program Fee $255 + Meals $83 + Lodging $175 = $513 2 Nights + 6 Meals
Commuter: no overnight lodging;  lunches & dinners only Program Fee $255 + Meals $54  +  Site Use Fee $105 = $414 2 Lunches, 2 Dinners
Non-participating Spouse/Partner (semi-private housing, all meals, no classes) Meals $83 + Lodging $175 = $258 2 Nights + 6 Meals


Cancellation Policy 

If 90+ days out, canceling a registration results in a full refund minus a $50 handling fee.

If 46-90 days out, 65% refund.

If 30-45 days out, 50% refund.

If fewer than 30 days out, there is no refund available.

Payment Plan Option 

You may choose to divide the cost across several months, depending upon how far in advance you are registering. Options will automatically appear in the online registration process. The cost is only $5 per month.

Frequently Asked Questions about Cost

Do you and 2 of your friends want to share a room? Each person should register separately. On the order form, each one should choose the lodging option for Triple Occupancy.

Does your spouse/partner want to come but will not participate in workshops? Register yourself first. Then, in the confirmation email there will be a link to register your non-participating spouse/partner.


Basic Schedule (more detail will be added closer to the event)


3:00-5:00 pm  Arrival, Check-in

5:30 pm    Welcome, Orientation, Introduce leaders, Overview of the weekend

7:00 pm Dinner

8 :00 pm 1st Session – singing choral pieces, announce Saturday classes



8:00 am  Breakfast

9:15 -10:30 am   Workshops

History of Gospel Music in America

Gospel Vocal Technique

The Music/Instrumental Side

10:45-11:50 am   Workshops

History of Gospel Music in America

Gospel Vocal Technique

The Music/Instrumental Side

12:00   Lunch

1:00-2:15 pm   Workshops

History of Gospel Music in America

Gospel Vocal Technique

The Music/Instrumental Side

2:30 – 4:30 pm   Choir Practice –everybody sings!

4:30 pm   Free time!

5:30 pm Dinner

7:00 pm Concert by Instructors at the Corbett Grange Hall (open to the public, included for participants, public tickets sold through Menucha) near Menucha



8:00 am   Breakfast

9:45 am   Choir practice, wrap-up questions, evaluations

11:00 am   Final sing all-together (will possibly invite family/friends to come hear)

11:45   Go home…and keep singing!