The Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir (formerly the Genesis Gospel Choir), is a multicultural group comprised of members of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Their unique style of music sets them apart from traditional LDS choirs in that the group worships and praises the Lord through song, singing authentic gospel soul music.
On 17 May 2018, the President and CEO of the National Association for the Advancement of Colored People (NAACP), Derrick Johnson, and Russell M. Nelson, President of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints issued a joint press release. In that release, they called on the world to “demonstrate greater civility, racial and ethnic harmony, and mutual respect” while eliminating “prejudice of all kinds.”
On 18 May 2018, the Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir was featured at a luncheon sponsored by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints held during the annual meeting of the National Board of Directors of the NAACP held in Salt Lake City, Utah. The leaders of the NAACP were highly impressed by the choir’s inspired and energizing gospel music. Following the performance, the choir was officially invited to perform at the NAACP 109th annual convention at the Henry B. González Convention Center in San Antonio, Texas, on 14 and 15 July 2018. Medium.com reports that the opportunity for the Choir to perform at the annual convention is a continuation of the work begun by Johnson and Nelson.
During the convention, the Choir will perform selections of gospel songs of praise and healing at the following three events:
Saturday, 14 July, 11:15 AM, “NAACP Experience Grand Opening” (HBGCC Hall 4B) — This event is open to the public.
Sunday, 15 July, 8:00 AM, “Prayer & Memorial Breakfast” (HBGCC) — Convention registration or media credentials are required.
Sunday, 15 July 6:00 PM, “Public Mass Meeting” (HBGCC Hall 1) — This event is open to the public.
The Choir will also be performing at two community concerts on Saturday, 14 July, at 6240 UTSA Boulevard, San Antonio, Texas. The times for the concerts are 5:00 pm and 7:30 pm CDT. The events are supported by the San Antonio Texas West Stake of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints and are free and open to the public.
Medium.com reports that the mission of the choir is “to help heal souls through gospel music.” The members of the dynamic choir believe “Christ’s teachings — shared through the joy of gospel music — invite us all to come together in unity because we’re all children of our Father in Heaven. “
The talented and energetic leader of the choir is Debra Bonner. She grew up in Flint, Michigan, in a Baptist home, singing in gospel choirs from an early age. She has been a professional voice coach for 45 years, and at one time was the lead in a show in Laughlin, Nevada, called “Hot New Orleans Nights.” Thirty of the 45 years have been spent been spent training and working with the two top vocal pedagogues of the 20th century as their close associate. In 1996, she was a guest soloist with the world-renowned Mormon Tabernacle Choir, which she describes as the “most spiritual experience I have ever had in my life.” As a professional soloist, Debra has performed all over the world and has developed her own vocal technique, Debratone®.
Speaking about the choir, in an interview with KUTV.com, she stated, “If I’m the director, then I’m the leader, and they have to be one with me. I’m directing you. You [must] throw out you, and you [must] be one with me. . .. This gives [a spiritual experience for] African Americans and others who want to really feel the music and come to know the Savior by singing this music.”
Members of the Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir recently blended their voices with members of Saints Unified Voices and members of the Mormon Tabernacle Choir, under the direction of Grammy award-winning recording artist, Gladys Knight, for a special celebration originating from the Conference Center in Salt Lake City, Utah, and broadcast globally by The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints titled, “Be One”.