School of Music
Doctor of Worship Studies (DWS)
William Douglas Crawley
Singing, Church, Choir, Aging, Culture, American
Fine Arts | Music
Ehler, Shirley Claudeen, "Aging Voices in the American Church Choir: A Study in Ethnomusicology and Ethnodoxology" (2022). Doctoral Dissertations and Projects. 3526.
Despite American church choirs being a distinct culture across all denominations and independent church entities, this traditional worship community of singers is a minority culture in the United States. Furthermore, existing journal literature frequently features young voices, e.g., children's, middle school, teen, and university choirs and choruses. Aging-voice research literature began to appear in the 1990s for individual voices or voices in community choirs. Aging voices are a unique ethnicity found in every race within the church choir culture. Researched literature on the aging voice in the American church choir is conspicuous by its absence, pushing American church choir aging voices into a marginalized, minority culture. Interviews and surveys with directors of church choirs from coast-to-coast help inform a qualitative, ethnomusicological, and ethnodoxological study. The study considers both documented and unexplored possibilities of singers over a certain age effecting spiritual, cultural, and musical change in the American intergenerational church choir. Post-COVID-19, adult voices may have a unique opportunity to demonstrate physical and spiritual stamina in returning from isolation and quarantine to socialization and participation in face-to-face, life-long corporate worship. Since humanity longs to be understood, this work is needed to recover the disappearing culture of the American church choir and the aging-voice ethnicity within that same choir-culture community. The study could encourage research in sacred dance, drama, and education programs similar to those currently developing in medical ethnomusicology