The Anderson University (AU) Ensemble began during the mid-seventies when several African American students felt the need to come together and sing praises unto God. They performed in churches in the local community as well as on campus.
In the early eighties, the late Bill Bridges, a music professor of the college, took a special interest in the choir; he sought professional persons in the community to work with the choir. Belinda Isom, an alumna of Anderson University, directed the choir for about two years and in 1985, Leonard M. Johnson became the director. Under the leadership of Bill Bridges and Johnson, membership was made available to persons in the surrounding communities, and the group, formerly called the Anderson College Inspirational Choir, was later renamed The Anderson College Ensemble - of course now, the Anderson University Ensemble. In addition, the ensemble became an integral part of the music curriculum; students began receiving college credit for participating in the group and music majors were given ensemble credit for their participation. Students are now offered generous scholarships for their participation in the AU Ensemble.
The Ensemble’s repertoire is primarily comprised of traditional and contemporary gospel music with special emphasis on spirituals. During high school performances, the ensemble sometimes include in its repertoire pop music, show tunes, jazz songs in order to provide its audiences with a variety of music.
The ensemble performs musical concerts, musical productions (including theatrical poetry, prose and dance) on campus and throughout the surrounding community as well as the State of South Carolina and surrounding states including Georgia, North Carolina, Tennessee, Virginia, Washington, DC and Wisconsin.
This marks the twenty-first (21st) year of Leonard M. Johnson, a 1972 graduate of Clark Atlanta University, serving as director of this choral group. During these twenty-one years, the ensemble has become one of the most highly noted and recognized choirs in the state. It has been said that their tone quality, diction and wide range of vocal styles are impeccable.