We are Café of the Gate of Salvation, Sydney’s premier a cappella gospel choir. Inspired by the footstompin’, soulful music of the African-American vocal tradition, we sing because we love to and we share our voices, to foster inclusiveness, compassion & joy. The choir is delighted to have Tony Backhouse return as Artistic Director and principal conductor from late 2022. 

Our values

Social justice – A commitment to contributing to charities and movements based on the principles of human rights, equality and freedom

Spirituality- no matter what creed our members and audience adhere to, we respect and celebrate the spiritual nature of gospel music.

Joy- Spreading the joy of gospel music with energy, enthusiasm and passion!

Respect- for each other, our audience, the wider community and the tradition of Gospel music.

Pride- We pride ourselves on being Australia’s leading gospel choir. Together we are professional, socially conscious, talented and unique.

The choir purpose and direction - what we do.

We sing because we love to. We pursue excellence, integrity, community and have fun. We want to inspire our listeners through a particular kind of music and hopefully through our enthusiasm for spiritual inclusiveness, love and joy.

Our music derives from the African-American Baptist Gospel Tradition but also includes songs of freedom and world music attuned to our values of spiritual inclusiveness, social justice, integrity and joy.

We perform. We record. We facilitate the concerts of and collaborate with kindred performers
We tour. We run workshops and seminars

We actively support social justice and a significant component of our yearly calendar includes fundraising performances in support of social justice

We commission new music and arrangements which further encourage and expand the music we sing

We are mindful of the history of African-American Gospel Music and promote this knowledge to choir members and our audience.

We promote the training of choir members in conducting, singing and performance skills

We respect and honor our responsibilities relating to the intellectual property rights of the music we sing.

How it all began.....

"Gospel choir forming - Buddhists welcome."

So read the sign posted on a café wall that started the journey for Café of the Gate of Salvation, the Sydney-based gospel choir known for its joy, energy…and mighty, mighty sound.

When founder Tony Backhouse first had the idea to start a non-profit inner city choir back in 1986, little did he know how far-reaching that decision would be. Aiming to bring joy to performers and audiences alike, the group would be community focused, and be inspired by the passionate, spiritual and traditional African-American religious music.

The history of African-American gospel is one of hope and freedom, threaded throughout with protest and social agitation. Gospel sheds an undeniable influence on R&B, funk and soul music; the method, dynamics and power behind the songs are different, but the message is delivered each and every time. This is the essence of what Café of the Gate of Salvation aims to deliver in their performances.

Tony Backhouse led the choir until late 2007 and was succeeded by Dynes Austin as Musical Director for the next decade. Cheryl Craig and Fiona Lamb then jointly led the choir for a number of years.
The choir has released five CDs to date, one of which was nominated for an ARIA Award.