The purpose of this phenomenological inquiry was to describe the essence of long-term singing experiences for participants in one Southeastern African American church choir in the United States. Specific areas of inquiry included how participants described the evolution of their singing over their long-term membership, how they articulated pivotal moments that connected singing experiences to self-growth, and what kept them singing in the same church choir. The data collection included 24 individual interviews with 18 different participants and 16 observations over a 3-month period. Participants ranged from 25 to 62 years of membership. Data sources included memos, artifacts, interview transcripts, and field notes. Using embodiment as a lens, data were reduced, horizontalized, and synthesized into a textural portrayal, structural description, and essence. Findings indicated 6 textural themes beginning with Themes 1 and 2, “growing as young people” and “building and sustaining the choir family.” Participants highlighted the importance of their directors within Theme 3, “inspiring directors with vision” and how music related to their self-growth in Theme 4, “becoming part of my music.” The final two textural themes, “contributing and ministering to others” and “loving God and gospel music” represented the strongest descriptions of participant lived experience as long-term members of the choir. The essence of participants’ lived experiences was development of the spiritual self. Implications for music education as spiritually relevant pedagogy are offered.

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