Choir members

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Jacqui Cowell

 
Soprano
Jacqui has been singing and performing from a young age. She was in the successful all girl pop group Girlfriend in the 1990’s. She recorded 3 gold and platinum albums and toured extensively in Australia and overseas. Since then, Jacqui has been part of a jazz duo, a folk band and a member of Café of the Gate of Salvation. Jacqui is a Drama Teacher and Arts Educator. She has a love of music, especially jazz music and loves the harmonic and soulful sound of the choir. 

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Andrew McCloud

 
Tenor
“There is no revolution without songs”, is the saying that emerged during the Chilean revolutionary movement of the 1950s. Today that saying epitomises the struggles of many different groups in our society who are marginalised and ostracised by our social, cultural systems and laws. And it is the pentatonic scale that formed the basis of Gospel music when African slaves were singing songs on cotton picking farms in colonial America. And the call and response which has become a staple aspect of Gospel music, is said by the community organiser and preacher Mark-Anthony Middleton to not just be a musical technique or idiom, but “an affirmation of our humanity”. It is a reminder that you and I are both alive and in the struggle together. In Gospel music we find a history, A STORY of solidarity and struggle, sorrow and grief, of yearning and working for change and of joy. And it was Eric Dozier who said, “these songs were meant for everyone.” If this is the history of Gospel music, who wouldn’t want to sing its songs?

After a positive reception to a solo in choir in his final year of primary school Andrew had all the encouragement he needed to keep singing. He started having singing lessons at 14, completed Music for his HSC and went onto complete a Bachelor of Music majoring in vocal studies. Andrew has performed in community musical theatre productions and choral symphonies all over Sydney. He is also a songwriter and singing teacher and is obviously super passionate about the history of Gospel music. 

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Liu Halaifonua Palu

 
Alto
Having been born and raised in a traditional Christian and Tongan home, all Liu has known is the love for Jesus and Singing. Before discovering her love for Gospel music and artists such as Mahalia Jackson and Nicole C Mullens, her love for Gospel singing was birthed in her home and in her local Tongan church through learning and singing traditional Tongan Hymns (always sung in acapella). Liu joined Café in 2017 after hearing the choir perform at the "Room at the Inn" gig in St Stephen's Uniting Church and receiving encouragement by fellow members Kent and Reece to audition. Being a member and singing with her Café family fills her with 'Otua (God), Mo'ui (life) and Melino (peace), all of which she also hopes to share with audiences through Café' rich and soulful harmonies. 

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Andrew Baker

 
Bass
Andrew has had COTGOS as part of his playlist for the last 25 years after hijacking his partners copy of our very first CD. A brief hiatus, following almost a decade with Sydney based choir Soulfood a capella, made it clear that not singing wasn’t an option and lead him to successfully audition for the bass section. The joy Andrew now gets from contributing to those songs he once listened to, has more than validated his decision to join Cafe.

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Jordan Hume

 
Bass
Jordan can remember first seeing Cafe at Bondi Pavilion as a tiny toddler in the early 90’s and being swept away by the rich and intricate harmonies. Fast forward 20 years and countless afternoons listening to the choir’s recordings on repeat, and the opportunity to join the group was too good to miss.  When he’s not singing, you might find Jordan on a sailboat, dabbling in the latest instrument to take his fancy, or building eLearning tools for music education.

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Fi Lamb - Assistant Musical Director

 
Alto
Fiona's background is in the Uniting Church, and it was thanks to church friends that she saw COTGOS for the first time at the Basement in 1994. Since then she has been an avid follower of the choir until joining in 2008, and has been involved in various gospel acappella groups over the last 18 years including Crossfocus, Honeybees, Sweet Spirit Quartet, Holy Trinity, Heavens to Betsy, Northern Lights. Highlights include Womadelaide in 1998, Directing and Composing for local and international choirs, Coordinating Gospel festivals and participating in 3 gospel music study tours in USA with Tony Backhouse in 1997, 1999. Fi was also musical director of the tour in 2002 and will always remember the magnificent experiences in Ebenezer Missionary Baptist Church in New Orleans, and Baptist House of Prayer in Harlem New York. She loves the spiritual aspect of the choir's music, its commitment to social justice, and its culture of acceptance of all people regardless of faith. Fi is the Assistant Musical Director of COTGOS and Director of "Untamed Melody" community choir 2011- current.

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Cheryl Craig

 
Soprano
Cheryl has had a passion for Gospel music since an early age. Born in Detroit Michigan; she has been
tapping into the rich history of African American Soul , Motown and Gospel music.
Since moving to Sydney in 2002 , Cheryl has been involved in various bands, singing groups and musical
theatre. She has also taught singing and was involved with the worship team at Hillsong Church for over
8 years.
Cheryl became involved with the Café of the Gate of Salvation back briefly in 2002, and has now
returned to the choir for the last 4 years.She has now been the Assistant Musical Director since 2013.
She is incredibly honored and grateful to be a part of such an amazing, powerful and beautiful choir. 

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Tracey Greenberg

 
Alto
I had been singing in funk/soul bands for 10 years and had just about tired of having to scream over the top of guitarists, drummers, horns and timbales when I saw a sign in a Glebe cafe saying “Gospel choir forming, Buddhists welcome”, and my voice was saved! Tony Backhouse’s soulful arrangements of traditional African-American Gospel songs made my heart soar and I have become an Acappella convert .I love our ability to connect with an audience through voice, whether it’s original Gospel; our own original songs inspired by the African - American  tradition; or some of the African roots music we perform that are so often liberation songs. I think our strengths are that we not only have brilliant soloists, but we also work hard, with Dynes Austin’s direction, to achieve a blend of our voices so that the soloists have a solid and sublime backing. And all without a Marshall Stack on stage!

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Frank Zeichner

 
Bass
I’ve loved choral singing since being a teenager. The joy of making a communal sound that lifts both the singers and the audience was an unexpected surprise when an American, Rodney Rothlisberger, passionate about choral singing and deeply knowledgeable about the American choral tradition took over the choir for a couple of years at Melbourne High School. Later at “Badde Manors” in Glebe after a chance meeting with the Elevators and Tony Backhouse I became part of the quartet – what a hoot. At that time Tony had the gospel bug and we spent time listening and emulating groups like the Soul Stirrers and the Golden Gate Quartet – and often with original music written by Tony. Small wonder, that it would lead to me joining the “Café’ which Tony started soon after – albeit it took me 17 years to do it. God knows why it took me so long.

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Judith Foster

 
Soprano
I’ve have been singing in the choir since it began in the spring of 1986. The choir has always been a great collection of people and we’ve sung at some amazing events and for many good causes. The music we sing is inspiring and uplifting. These are the things that mean the most to me about the choir.

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Scot Morris

 
Bass
Scot started singing in choirs as a boy soprano, RSCM etc and relished music through school and Uni – choirs, musicals, viola, piano etc. Lived in Avignon and sang in a baroque choir at the Avignon Conservatoire, came back to Sydney and discovered an amazing a cappella gospel choir that had recently started up – 27 years later and he's still singing in the café! Recalls when he started in the choir, he was managing front of house at the Dendy cinema, and the choir had done the soundtrack of Jan Campion's film “Sweetie” – the Dendy had the opening party and an amazing gig by the choir…..Now works in international music copyright, chasing up overseas royalties for our composers and songwriters…..

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Pete Mahony

 
Tenor
Growing up in a time when families sang together during long car journeys, and harmonically at mass, I was finally inspired by the Beatles cartoon show to build my first guitar from a ruler and rubber bands. Folk mass, guitar pop vocal duets with my sister, the godless heartland of Neil Young, postpunk angst and defiance, then the Castanet Club (dags who do good) including the Edinburgh Festival. Meeting Tony & Judy Backhouse, and getting in on the ground floor of the early days of the Cafe. MD for Wogs Out of Work and Acropolis Now! Live. Lately, more your backyard ukulele player, with occasional lapses on drums and guitar. Recently graduated with a Masters of Teaching in secondary music, although my allergy to school staff-rooms flared up again. Luckily a Cafe-return is helping me keep my pitch up!

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John Boyd

 
Tenor
jJohn has been with Cafe of the Gate of Salvation since 2008, becoming Tenor sectional head in 2012.  He has been singing since 2002 just after he arrived to live in Australia. He has been in several musical theatre productions with the Willoughby Musical Theatre Company but Gospel has become his singing passion of choice.
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John has been with Cafe of the Gate of Salvation since 2008, becoming Tenor sectional head in 2012.  He has been singing since 2002 just after he arrived to live in Australia. He has been in several musical theatre productions with the Willoughby Musical Theatre Company but Gospel has become his singing passion of choice!

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Adrienne Buffini

 
Alto
I've been a member of the Cafe for almost 6 years now and I thoroughly enjoy every rehearsal & gig we do. I'm originally from Dublin and was part of the Dublin Gospel Choir for 5 fantastic years, before coming back to Sydney in 2008 and finding my new choir home with the Cafe in 2009.

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Tracey Case

 
Alto
Tracey has a Bachelor of Performing Arts in Theatre and has worked professionally as a singer and actor for over 20 years. She loves all types of music but is especially drawn to the power and passion of Gospel music and ensemble singing. She has an incredible husband and two amazing children and has been with COTGOS since 2006.

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Tina McLeish

 
Soprano
Tina has loved music and dance for as long as she can remember and performed in many school musicals and choirs. During her teenage years she had friends who also loved to sing and they would often sing together to entertain each other. After uni she sought out community choirs and on moving to the inner west realised the Cafe rehearsed down the road. After attending several moving workshops she knew she had to audition, and since then the Cafe has become family. Singing and performing in such an eclectic and soulful group is cathartic and a midweek pick me up!

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Zoe Vrachnas

 
Soprano
Zoe has been a musician, singing and playing the violin, for as long as she can remember. As a chorister with two renowned children’s choirs: The Sydney Children’s Choir and Gondwana Voices for over decade, Zoe was able to take part in a world tour, the Opening Ceremony of the Commonwealth Games, the 2007 APEC Summit and various recordings for the ABC amongst other memorable opportunities. Now, a student of languages at the University of Sydney, Zoe pursues singing as her preferred past time and enjoys the soulful and earthy gospel sound the choir makes each Wednesday night

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Sofia Parish

 
Alto
Since an early age I've always loved singing. In high school my musical focus was primarily playing the cello, both individually and in various ensembles and orchestras. After moving to a new city to start university, I instead joined the university choir and I haved enjoyed singing in groups ever since. In 2010 I relocated to Sydney from my native Sweden, and after trying two other choirs I finally found the perfect one in 2012, COTGOS. Our rehearsal is one of the week's highlights for me, and I love that the choir has a strong focus on community and social justice. Gospel music is truly heart warming, it always leaves you feeling inspired and uplifted!

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Michelle Campbell

 
Alto
Michelle started singing when she was 5 years old, according to her mum, and she hasn't stopped since. Teenage years spent singing country harmonies were followed by singing with various bands performing around the Illawarra, and even a 2 week stint with a choir performing in Uganda. She joined Cafe in 2012 and is overjoyed to be part of such a talented and amazing bunch of singers!,

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Reece Proudfoot

 
Bass
Reece has been singing since the age of 8 when he joined St. Paul's Cathedral Choir in London as a chorister. After 5 years at St. Paul's he was awarded a music scholarship to Highgate school in London, and went on to study music at the University of Lancaster in the UK, where he majored in voice, conducting, music technology and music psychology. Since returning to Australia in 2003 he has sung with the Sydney Philharmonia Motet Choir and Sydney Chamber Choir. After two years working in Tonga, where in his spare time he organised a series of music concerts for the late King George V, Reece returned to Australia again in 2011 and has been singing with The Cafe since 2012.

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Stephanie King

 
Alto
I have always loved to sing - especially in part harmony - church choirs, school productions and the odd dodgy folk band. After a dry spell I joined a community choir run by Stuart Davis which introduced me to Sydney's Acapella community. That led to a gospel class with the wonderful Tony Backhouse and that was it for me! The class morphed into The Honeybees but I always dreamed of singing with Cafe. Eventually I got there in 2004. After 12 years I am still inspired by the music (Tony’s amazing arrangements), my fellow choir members and the groups commitment to social justice. 

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Jody Houston

 
Soprano
Jody first learned to sing with her mother and grandmother, both established soprano singers. Learning the beauty of harmony early with the traditional spirituals in church and at various cultural events. Jody has had lessons at the Joan Sutherland Performing Arts Centre and with Sacha-Lee Kilgour, Sydney Conservatorium of Music and Vocal Alchemy.  Jody has performed in various styles from barbershop; funk and soul, acoustic folk and wedding jazz as a soloist with the Piano Cat and Jazz by Jody.

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Jane Brew

 
Soprano
I have loved singing for as long as I can remember! School choirs, bands and small ensembles were a wonderful way to get together with friends and make joyful sounds. I initially studied singing under classical soprano Judith Turner and later with jazz singer Joy Yates and have enjoyed singing in a variety of styles from rock bands to classical eisteddfods and musical theatre. I feel really privileged to be part of The Cafe as the uplifting spirit of gospel music is something quite unique. The Cafe is amazing in the heart its members have for the music as well as for supporting social justice causes... and there's nothing like seeing your own smile reflected back at you from someone in the audience when you are performing!

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David Joseph

 
Bass
DJ has been performing with Ashfield Musical Society for 10 years and previously competed in dance competitions (Rock n’ Roll, Swing, Latin) and was Sydney, NSW and Australasian Swing Champion for 3 years, he also enjoyed dancing at the Sydney 2000 Olympics Closing Ceremony. DJ First saw the choir performing in late 80s and dreamed one day of being part of it, a dream that came true in 2010 when he joined after taking singing lessons to build his confidence to audition!

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Peter Mackie

 
Tenor
I have always been involved in music, musicals, choirs, bands etc. The Cafe choir is my longest standing singing commitment. I was attracted to gospel choirs since I first saw Tony Backhouse 's choir 30 years ago. 

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Chris Ward

 
Bass
Chris attended the second rehearsal of the choir in 1985 responding to the original invitation displayed at Badde Manors Cafe inviting all comers (Buddhists welcome) to join a newly forming gospel choir. Rehearsals began in the living room of Tony and Judy Backhouse. Performances started within weeks, the first  being an uninvited one in Sydney's Queen Victoria Building. The fabulous acoustics which drew them  there  also quickly caught the attention  of security and they were moved on. Undeterred, they reassembled across the road in front of Woolworths and unbidden donations soon enabled them to buy coffees for all. Chris' first choral experience was with St Augustine's Boys Choir led by Fr. Patrick Fahey O.S.A. Chris joined in 1961 singing his way down to the bass section in 1969 in his final year of high school. Rehearsing every day before school, this choir won the NSW Choral Championship for Boys in 1966 with Adjudicator  John Nicholls noting that the choir was 'remarkably, unbelievably, surpassingly good'. A contract with Festival Records produced a series of vinyl treasures. Singing with the Cafe has  also inspired Chris to perform with two gospel bluegrass vocal quartets, The Treble Clems and The Amazing Grace Brothers.  Chris still loves to sing.
 

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Monica Sa

 
Soprano
I had been a fan of the choir for many years before seeing Cafe's 25th anniversary concert in 2011, after which I was inspired to audition.  I had just moved to Sydney after 8 years of living in Canberra and singing with the Strange Weather Gospel Choir, and knew no other choir would do.  Rehearsals are joyous and therapeutic, and performing with Cafe is an honour.

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Claire O'Rourke

 
Alto
Claire simply loves to sing. After learning to sing at high school, Claire confined her singing to karaoke and lullabies for her babies before joining Cafe in 2016. For Claire, Cafe is pure bliss: love, joy and music for all.

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Shona Gallagher

 
Alto
Shona’s love for singing developed during her childhood when she performed with Newcastle’s NBN Children’s Choir and took classical singing lessons. After discovering Nina Simone among her parents’ record collection Shona realised that opera was never going to let her get her groove on and that other musical genres were waiting to be explored. A Bachelor of Theatre/Media followed, and while Shona’s fire breathing technique is solid, the remainder of her circus skills have been allowed to slide. Shona has performed with various Sydney a cappella groups, including seven years with Ising On The Cake. She joined Café in 2015. Shona is a team player who finds bliss in crunchy chords and close harmonies.
 

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Catherine Fisher

 
Alto
Catherine was first introduced to music through the classical flute, which she played for 11 years. When she discovered singing, it soon became her main passion. In high school, Catherine was heavily involved in music and there she developed a strong interest in Jazz, Soul, RnB, and Gospel music. She started university in a science-based degree. Realising that her passion for music was too strong, Catherine changed degrees and is now studying Jazz Voice at the Sydney Conservatorium of Music.

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Angie Noble

 
Soprano
My family emigrated from Scotland to Australia when I was 8 years old. My brothers and I hit the streets and used to busk beetles songs under the new blue sky. I always sang and started writing my own music in school and carried on in different bands through the years from funk to folk to electronic. I studied performing arts at Uni and ended up working with a talented producer where we released an album, got some good airplay as well as performed at some great festivals.  Over the years I worked with some great producers doing session work too. When I first moved out of home I lived with someone who sang in this choir. He would come home at night and teach me gospel songs. I always loved it! And here I am now.. 

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Kristen Butchatsky

 
Soprano
Kristen trained at uni as a classical soprano and is now a music teacher, but joined the choir in 2015 because she was craving more musical freedom. As a youngster, she remembers her older sister raving about this great gospel choir called the Cafe of the Gate of Salvation (what a great name!) and always thought 'one day I'll join that choir'. A dream come true...now she is loving Wednesday night rehearsals, learning to 'let her hair down', musically speaking, and get into the groove! 

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