The Montgomery, AL Chapter of Gospel Music Workshop of America: Local Organization Bridges Music, History and Service


By Niyah Martin, Intern

Montgomery, Ala.– Founded in 1983, by Georgia Lee Stafford Black, the Montgomery, AL Chapter of Gospel Music Workshop of America represents a community based on love, unity, and fellowship. The organization champions a holy bond sealed together by music. The community choir is administered by Dr. Diana S. Gray, the Assistant Chapter Representative. Dr. Gray has received her undergraduate diplomas in church music and education from Huntington College in Montgomery, AL. Dr. Gray also has received her master’s degree in music education at Auburn University in Auburn, AL. Dr. Gray is as a prominent business owner, influential figure, and leadership trainer.

The Montgomery, AL Chapter of GMWA treasures its history with a passion. Distinguished figures such as Rev. James Cleveland hold a heavy influence on how the organization maintains the standards of those that have paved the pathway. The Chapter also honors the importance of black history within the church, as a great deal of civil rights activists participate in the congregation. In remembrance of historical black figures, the members meet weekly at First Baptist Church. “It played a pinnacle role of the bus boycott, right there on North Ripley Street. Everything that we do is centered around the history of Montgomery.” In reference to the sacred history of The AL Chapter of GMWA, Dr. Gray expresses, “The history is very, very important. Remembering our history and continuing our history and making the history based on those pillars there, is very important.”

The source of life for the Montgomery, AL Chapter of GMWA is its members, specifically it’s youth. The organization relishes the youth as of the utmost importance. The youth have the responsibility to learn and grown within the church, with this responsibility they can share information with other churches in the city as young members. Rev. James Cleveland is known to have mentored musical icons such as Aretha Franklin and Andre Crouch in their youth. Dr. Gray says, “Now, as with any organization, we must include the youth. Train them up, so they can be our future leaders.”

The Montgomery, AL Chapter of GMWA participates in a great deal of service for the wellbeing of Montgomery citizens. The Chapter provides clothing, food, and money for the homeless or victims of domestic abuse. The organization offers it’s Georgia Lee Stafford Black college scholarship to high school seniors wanting to expand their education. The Montgomery, AL Chapter of GMWA also collaborates with other churches such as Fresh Anointing to sponsor Destiny Academy to provide education to Kenyan children. Dr. Gray says, “It’s a part of our DNA. On a national level it’s required for us to be a non-profit organization and to do community service.”

Unification is the purpose and motivation behind the Montgomery, AL Chapter of GMWA and is responsible for the ongoing expansion of the righteous empire. Dr. Gray says, “We are still unified in carrying out the mission of GMWA and having that platform where individuals can come together and can improve their worship experience in their local churches. We’re unified because we are members of the body of Christ.”

The Montgomery, AL Chapter of GMWA is unique and exciting compared to other chapters. Their methods of recruitment are strong and modernized and have caused an overwhelming improvement in their strides to spread their impact worldwide. “What I did was work with the leadership team, the executive board, and I said let’s look at our strengths, our weaknesses, our opportunities, our threats, just basic things. And I pointed out a few things that we can improve on both on the national level and at the local level. From there, we were able to birth our website that is filled with so much information.”

The organization also hosts fun retreats in different parts of the country. For example, the upcoming, GMWA National Convention in Greensboro, North Carolina. The retreat will last from July 9th through the fourteenth. The trip is open to all members and features convocation, communion, midnight musicals, educational training, wellness activities and much more!

The Montgomery, AL Chapter of GMWA hosts all rehearsals and church services at First Baptist Church located on 347 North Ripley St. in Montgomery, AL. The organization offers many activities for all to enjoy and welcomes anyone who wishes to find a sense of fellowship within the community. Dr. Gray encourages new members and looks forward to their growth in the Church.

“Just come,” Dr. Gray says. “Let’s just make a joyful noise onto the Lord.” No need to feel intimidated, the newcomer process is effortless. “You can easily just sign up online. Go to our website and on our website, there are our performance divisions tab. It lists all the parts of the performance divisions. Once you read and discover what each division is like you just click join and fill out the form. It’s just that simple.”

For more information, visit The Montgomery, AL Chapter of GMWA at

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