Welcome to The Northern Almanac, a WNIJ living history project coinciding with NIU's 125th anniversary.
The Northern Black Choir performing at the January 2020 Kick-Off Celebration of NIU’s 125th Anniversary.
The Northern Black Choir is NIU’s oldest and most enduring non-Greek black student organization. In 1968, NIU’s established choral groups did not perform afro-centric music, so a few black students got together and started their own group. The School of Music gave them space to rehearse once a week in the Music Building. The choir began with 12 to 15 members, and during the early years, performed a variety of styles, from spirituals to show tunes. But over time, gospel became the group’s signature style.
By the early 2000s, the group had grown to over 150 singers and had performed across the country. Many churches throughout northern Illinois bring in the Northern Black Choir for special services, and they typically perform at least one concert per semester on campus. They are also featured at NIU special events throughout the year.
Former members describe the choir as a spiritual safe haven. A home away from home.
The Northern Black Choir continues its weekly rehearsals in NIU’s Music Building, still using the same space where it all started more than half a century ago.