Johnifer Quentin Fashion, a musician who directed the College of Charleston's Gospel Choir from 1993 until 2005, died Saturday. He was 48. The cause of death was not reported.
The College of Charleston's Student Union for Minority Affairs (SUMA) Gospel Group began in 1986 under the leadership of Larnell Leverette. In 1992, the choir's name was changed to the College of Charleston Gospel Choir. Fashion graduated from the College in 1993 and became principal director of the choir.
Not long after, the enterprise was transformed into a formal course worth college credit, according to its current director, Brenten Weeks.
Fashion eventually grew the choir to 150 voices and led regular tours across the U.S. and abroad. The choir, a National Collegiate Gospel Choir Southeast Competition award winner, performed annually in the city-sponsored MOJA Arts Festival and even made an appearance on the television program "Good Morning America" in 2002.
Fashion was born on Sept. 23, 1965, in Moncks Corner and graduated from Berkeley High School in 1982.
Weeks joined the ensemble as a freshman in 2005, the last year of Fashion's tenure.
"It was a great experience overall," he said. "He is one of my music mentors, which is why I take so much pride in the College of Charleston Gospel Choir today."
Weeks said he and his mentor sometimes met off-campus to discuss music, the choir and other topics.
"I got advice on how to grow the choir to a 150-voice ensemble that it used to be," he said. "I've got it to about 60 students now."
Like Fashion before him, Weeks is taking the group on tour, mostly in the Southeast, though a spring tour of the eastern seaboard is planned, thanks to the groundwork laid by his predecessor and the contacts he provided.
Fashion, a pianist, also directed The Citadel Gospel Chorus and served as minister of music at Mt. Carmel AME Church in Moncks Corner, according to W.M. Smith-McNeal Funeral Home. He is survived by his son Quinton T. Fashion, his parents and three sisters.
A service is scheduled for 11 a.m. Thursday at Mt. Carmel AME Church, 1059 Old Black Oak Road, Moncks Corner. Fashion will be buried at Sunset Cemetery in St. Stephens.