Alphaeus Anderson Celebrates 10th Anniversary as USC Upstate Gospel Choir Director

By Salleah Brown-Massey, ’24

Alphaeus Anderson caught his first glimpse of his future with the USC Upstate Gospel Choir when he was a student at Dorman High School. Dorman’s choir was invited to perform at the Gospel Choir’s concert, and Anderson was inspired by what he saw. “I’m looking at Dr. Warren Carson directing over 150 students on stage, overflowing on the sides,” Anderson recalls. “I’m watching this not even knowing years later, I would be asked to direct the same choir.”

Anderson recently celebrated his 10-year anniversary as the director of the USC Upstate Gospel Choir. Founded by students in the 1979-80 academic year, the choir has a rich legacy and strong alumni base that Anderson seeks to support and grow. He credits his positive experiences with the choir to his students and their passion for uplifting each other with gospel.

“They are the driving force behind me saying I’m proud,” Anderson says. “If they were not here and having the vision and the purpose and the pull to come to USC Upstate, I wouldn’t be here.”

Music was a big part of Anderson’s life even before he came to Upstate. While a student at Anderson University, Anderson formed a youth choir that began with one child and grew to over 100 in a month. He eventually had so many choristers he divided the group into teens and younger children. His group went on to receive seven Stellar Award nominations, winning twice, and one Dove Award nomination.

Anderson has continued the USC Upstate Gospel Choir tradition of touring the country to spread the word of gospel and of USC Upstate. As much as he enjoys that experience, though, his favorite part of being a director is leading rehearsals. Students may come in stressed and anxious, but all that changes when practice begins, he notes.

“In 90 minutes or less, it’s like a miracle. It’s like this powerful transformation – that stress is leaving because of the vibe in the room,” he says. “There are smiles, there’s laughing.”

To Anderson’s students, he is more than just a director. He is a father figure, a best friend and a mentor. “I just love his uplifting spirit, and his dedication to teaching and taking care of others,” says Jaidyn Brown, ’24. Says another student, “Mr. Anderson is a light in a dark place. There is no better person than him to make you feel like you belong in the world.”

In celebration of his decade of leadership, Anderson will direct the Gospel Choir in “The Dime Experience” at 7 p.m. on Saturday, Oct. 7, in the Humanities and Performing Arts Center Theatre. The concert is free.