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Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir Backs Lyle Lovett up on Flynn Stage

The Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir performed with singer Lyle Lovett to a sell-out crowd at the Flynn Center for the Arts in Burlington, Vt., Wednesday, Aug. 3.

Yes. That Lyle Lovett. The four-time Grammy Award winner whose hits include “Cowboy Man” and who has appeared in dozens of television shows and movies over the course of his 36-year career. And who briefly was married to Julia Roberts. 

Choir Director Dexter Criss wasn’t sure how Lovett’s agent knew to reach out to the choir, but the call came late in the game. They were asked Aug. 1 to perform.

According to Zuwena James, the Gospel Choir’s student office assistant, they were able to pull together 10 members, not an easy feat during the summer when most are away from campus.

“We rehearsed with the band director, not Lyle,” James said. “The first time we sang with Lyle was when the show began. We opened with the song, “Church.” That was the first time he heard us. It wasn’t (even) a sound check; it was for the live show. At the end of the song, he and his band turned to us and applauded us. That was a great feeling. To me, it meant he loved what he heard.”

James, an international student from Trinidad and Tobago is a music major and said the opportunity “was a great experience for me. As an aspiring singer, I’m so happy that I was able to sing with the choir for the show and to meet four-time Grammy winning artist, Lyle Lovett.”

She said he is “such a humble person, so down to earth.

“Singing with him was a pleasure and an honor. He is very talented. We also got to meet members of his band, and they are just as down to earth as he is. I said to Dexter when I got to work the next morning, ‘They’re such cool people.’”

Lovett performed six songs with the choir, which has traveled internationally since it began 25 years ago. In addition to “Church,” Lovett and the choir performed the gospel standards, “Pass Me Not,” “I Will Rise Up,” “I’m a Soldier in the Army of the Lord,” “I’m Going to Wait,” and “I’m Going to the Place.”

“This opportunity opens doors for the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir to receive more love from the North Country,” James said. “Not that we haven’t been receiving it all this time; but I say more love, meaning that audience members who have never heard us perform were given the opportunity to hear us that night with Lyle. They enjoyed with us what we enjoy doing best: singing gospel music.” 

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