NGU’s Joyful Sound embarks on 5th decade of ministry

Joyful Sound, a musical ensemble of North Greenville University, will celebrate its 40th anniversary with a concert April 13 in conjunction with the inauguration of NGU’s eighth president, Gene Fant Jr.

The current version of Joyful Sound includes two teams of nine members. Joyful Sound sings in more than 200 churches each year. The group was founded in 1977 and began performing in 1978.

Mike Baker

Mike Baker, who today serves as director of missions for Palmetto Baptist Association, was Joyful Sound’s founding director. Mayson Easterling, executive director for church relations at North Greenville, has managed the ministry from its inception.

Baker stated, “I remember the first weekend I got the group together [before classes started on campus]. We sat on the floor of the stage in Turner Auditorium and started writing possible names for the group on slips of paper. ‘Joyful Sound’ came up, and it stuck.”

Easterling noted, “We have averaged over 100 concerts each academic year since 1978. It is my estimation that Joyful Sound has led worship in more SBC churches than any other singing group in the history of the South Carolina Baptist Convention.”

Original members of Joyful Sound, 1978-79.

In the early days, the students received no scholarship money for their participation. Baker said, “We had no outfits, no sound system, but we were blessed.” Henry Simpson, of Belk-Simpson department stores, donated outfits for the first group, and Sawyer Electronics helped the group get their first sound system.

Easterling estimates that at least 500 students have participated in the ministry of Joyful Sound.

Since 2008, NGU staff member Josh Epton has served as director of the group. Daniel Brady and Quinn Varnado are student leaders for this year’s vocal teams. Steve Crouse, vice president for campus ministries, has had oversight of the ministry since 2002.

There will be an informal dinner hour in Todd Dining Hall beginning at 5 p.m. on April 13, followed by the anniversary concert at 7 p.m. A love offering will be received to help support Joyful Sound.