Syracuse Black Celestial Choral Ensemble sees one another as family

The Syracuse Black Celestial Choral Ensemble has fostered a sense of unity in the campus community, impacting its members beyond their musical performances.

To many members of the Syracuse University community, the Black Celestial Choral Ensemble (BCCE) is another musical group. But to 2016 Class Marshal Tatiana Williams and its other members, it's more than just a group that gathers to perform. She views the bond that BCCE members share as something very unique on campus.

"BCCE is my family. We're a choir, but before being a choir, we're a family," Williams said.

Before every rehearsal, prayers are said and problems in members' lives are discussed in groups. Williams explained that the support she receives has been crucial to her success at SU.

According to the group's website, it was founded in 1977 to provide a spiritual wellbeing with the campus' black community. Today, the group often performs off-campus at local churches and other universities.

While their songs are based on religion, the group does not support any one specific set of beliefs. Williams described being exposed to many different viewpoints. And she mentioned how being family oriented leaves plenty of time for laughter and fun.

"When we travel, we're really goofy," Williams explained, "We'll be on the bus, singing songs about Wendy's because we're starving."

Williams splits her free time between choir practices and performances,Class Marshal duties, and also serves as a resident advisor in Sadler Hall. Her residents call her "Mom", which co-RA Andrew Stranahan believes is a perfect word to describe her personality.

"Tatiana really wants to help residents adjust and be welcome here," he said, "She is so friendly. She says she's shy, but she's not shy."

While Williams says she was born ready to be an resident advisor, she acknowledges how becoming a Class Marshal would not be possible without BCCE. 

When asked how she was able to juggle all of her responsibilities at SU, Williams pointed back to the choir. "[BCCE] was ultimately what kept me grounded while I was here at Syracuse."

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