Just four months after its first rehearsal in 1990, this community-based, multi-cultural choir swept the competition to win first place in the prestigious Amateur Talent Contest at the Minnesota State Fair.
Amateur no more, the Choir returned to the State Fair a year later to present 13 concerts -- and completed its first professional studio recording that same summer. Since then, the choir has thrilled audiences at hundreds of events in venues as varied as the Historic State Theater, Central Baptist Church in St. Paul, the Ordway Theater, Red Wing Correctional Facility, and the Governor's Mansion.
Since its inception the choir has maintained its commitment to be a community resource, bringing its music and message to urban, suburban and rural communities.
The Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir, though its soulful interpretation of the African-American gospel music tradition, moves audiences spiritually and creates community across racial, cultural and economic boundaries.
We strive to perform to the highest musical standards, preserving and educating others and ourselves about traditional forms while exploring new musical avenues with African American gospel music. In this time of division and unrest, we strive to model community and reconciliation. We seek to bring people together with a message of hope and joy through our music.
The Choir gathers singers of various musical experience, ethnic backgrounds and ages to celebrate the power of music. For some, the Choir is a first foray into gospel singing. For others, this music is a way of life.
President: Tom Wasmoen. Tom is the founder, managing principal and CEO of Firm Ground Architects & Engineers. He is a registered architect and interior designer with experience in the design of retail, commercial, office, hospitality, healthcare, multi-family, student and senior housing projects. Tom’s greatest strength may be his ability to blend architectural and engineering design services into a collaborative team with the owner and contractor in the design/build delivery system.
His experience working directly for national development companies has given him an owner’s focus and an understanding of what it means to create “Raving Fans” and deliver outstanding customer service.
Vice President: Laure Teuting Nelson. Laura Tueting Nelson is a leader and team-builder with more than 20 years experience in helping people move ideas from information to action. Through effective use of communications skills, she focuses on finding individual strengths, group cohesion and community support across diverse populations.
Laura brings a broad background in public relations, marketing, and management from educational, non-profit and faith-based organizations. She has created and developed communications programs for local, regional and national organizations including Minneapolis Public Schools, Edina Public Schools, The National American Lutheran Church, and the YWCA. Her professional analysis and reporting work took her from the South Bronx to the Mexican border, and from Pine Ridge Reservation to south Florida migrant fields. Serving on as a volunteer providing direct service as well in organizational leadership positions, she has worked for fair housing, appropriate development and improved health services for all. Colleagues have called Laura a “ practical visionary,” bringing people and resources together around common goals.
Secretary: Dr. Tracy Batsell. Tracy Batsell has committed her life’s work to raising achievement and proving that all children – especially marginalized students of color – can achieve and achieve at high levels. During her 30 year career in education she has served in many capacities. She brings a career focus on program and youth development. She earned her undergraduate degree in Sociology from Metropolitan State University, her Master’s Degree in Education, a Master’s of Law Degree and a Doctorate in Education from Hamline University in Saint Paul, MN.
Tracy is a member of Zeta Phi Beta Sorority, Incorporated and the CEO of Promising Scholars of Tomorrow (PST) a non-profit organization that specialized in assisting student athletes with high school and college retention, matriculation, access and completion. As CEO of PST she has led ambitious initiatives to successfully narrow the achievement gap between student athletes of color and their white counterparts. As a result of these outcomes the students she worked with were accepted to college and completed their coursework. PST’s focus moving forward will be to assist students of color gain access to gifted programming while also creating culturally relevant gifted programs via solutions developed from programmatic research.
Members at Large:
Jack Perkins. Jack is a retired educator, having served 25 years in both secondary and higher education. He has also spent the last ten years serving in multiple roles for various non-profits. He has also worked as a consultant to help individuals and organizations understand and cope with the effects of stress and trauma. Jack lives in the Twin Cities with his wife, Karina, and their cat, Gus. They are the proud parents of four amazing children who live, work, and attend school in Georgia and Oklahoma.
Gene Montenez. Gene Montanez has spent over 15 years in technical sales working for two certified Government Testing laboratories. Gene has served as an engineering sales representative, regional sales and national sales manager selling test and manufacturing services to Aerospace and Military contractors. Mr. Montanez owned a Manufacturing Representative company for twelve years selling fiber optics and hi-tech electronics, to Government and DOD contractors.
Gene is a trained Prayer Chaplain, Healing Minister and an 11th hour Hospice Douala for memory care. Mr. Montanez is a REIKI Master, hands-on healer, a certified sailing vessel captain, a Native American Indian drum maker, pipe maker and carrier. He is also on the City of Robbinsdale Senior Commission and serves as a board member for Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir. Gene’s first paying gig as a drummer was in 1968, then he continued performing for over twenty-five years. His first-time singing was in 2016 when he joined the TCC choir.
Today, Gene is agency owner of Turning Point Advisors, a Medicare health insurance agency certified to represent and sell Medicare health insurance. He is also a servicing agent for over 2,300 Medicare clients and sells Long Term Care insurance, Life insurance, Annuities and travel insurance.
David Hurst, Artistic Director. David Hurst, songwriter, musician, and actor, is formerly a member of the 2002 Stellar Award Winners, 2003 Grammy Nominee Excelsior Choir and the Grammy Award Winning Sounds of Blackness.
He has performed with Will Smith, Luther Vandross, Usher, Patti Austin, BeBe Winans, Tom Jones and many other artists at the New Year's Celebration at the White House with President Clinton.
He‘s worked with both secular and gospel artists such as R. Kelly and Brian McKnight, and has laid background vocals for Mary J. Blige on No more Drama. David has performed with The Clark Sisters, Kirk Franklin, John P. Kee and Kim Burrell.
In 2008 David produced and directed The Night that Christ was Born Christmas Play for HPMDC Drama Department. He currently plays the lead role of Santa Claus in 'Twas the Night before Christmas with the Sounds of Blackness, and has played for Black Nativity 2006 – 2010 and Get Ready 2007 at the Penumbra Theater. David has also played Clyde in the MN hit stage play My Man or My Child and was the Music Director for James Grear & Company’s last release Don’t Waste Another Day.
David’s experience brings a fresh new look at how traditional African American gospel can blend with current contemporary music. His creative energy and vision have propelled the Twin Cities Community Gospel Choir to perform at the highest musical standards.
Susan Hanna-Bibus, Executive Director. Susan is a strategic thinker with over 30 years of effectiveness in the nonprofit arts sector. She has a proven track record of success in program development, fiscal management, team-building, grant writing and other fundraising, and marketing. Past employers include the Minneapolis College of Art and Design, Minnesota Opera Company, and Minnetonka Music Association. Most recently she served as co-executive director of the Hopkins Center for the Arts where she had primary responsibility for arts programming and marketing, and where she founded the Friends of HCA, the fundraising and community outreach arm of the Center. Her passion is to connect artists with audiences and to integrate the arts into the community.