About Us

Unity Gospel Choir International is a nonprofit 501c3

 

 Transform the World Through Gospel Music

Founder- Debra Bonner

Founder & Director of Unity Gospel Choir International

  • Master transformational vocal coach and holds a Master’s degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan.
  • Trained and mentored by two of the top voice teachers of the 20th and 21st century: Richard Miller, a classical vocal instructor, and Seth Riggs, a pop and Broadway vocal instructor.
  • Also trained and mentored by Dr. Vernon Woolf, an internationally known psychologist and therapist on how to heal people through music
    Performed around the world as a soloist and currently sings professionally with The Bonner Family.
  • She trained students for over five decades and has developed her own unique vocal program, Your True Voice: A Superior Vocal Training Program.

Debra found it difficult to focus on school work while in elementary school. She fought daily, defending those who were bullied. Mrs. Bonner was assigned to special education classes. Then a miracle happened when a new girl moved to Flint, Michigan – Debra’s hometown. (add quote section with italics to write – “She was tall and dark, which was not fashionable in the 1960s, and she must have had a hundred little pigtails all over her head with different colored bows. Children would tease her. She had a Southern drawl, and kids found that funny. She was taller than most of the kids and could have easily grabbed them and just sat on them – but she wouldn’t. She would not defend herself. She would just cry. So I would take up for her. I grew to admire her for her strength not to fight, even though she could beat them. She had a beautiful singing voice and I wanted to be just like her. When I asked her why she wouldn’t fight back, she told me, “Because my friend would not like it.” I asked her who her friend was, and she invited me to come with her to His house one Sunday morning. I came to know her friend personally. His name was Jesus. Once I gained a personal relationship with my Lord, things changed for me. I promised the Lord that if He would give me a voice, I would serve HIm and never fight again. I kept my promise, and He kept His.”) Her life totally changed; her mind expanded, and knowledge began to grow. Her pastor, Avery Aldridge; choir director, James Peoples; and the Foss Avenue Baptist Church family in Flint, Michigan, loved and nurtured Debra. They paid for her voice lessons until she graduated from high school with honors.

After receiving her masters degree in Vocal Performance from the University of Michigan, Debra married her sweetheart, Harry.

Together they served a Baptist mission in West Liberia, Africa. Prompted to return to the States, Debra became an inner-city high school choir director in Cincinnati, Ohio, continuing to change lives for good. Then prompted to move West, she was mentored and trained over a thirty-year period by two of the most celebrated vocal pedagogues of the 20th and 21st centuries, Richard Miller and Seth Riggs.

Debra with Seth Riggs

Debra Bonner presented Seth Riggs with the Lifetime Achievement and Impact Award, given to him at the 5th Annual Malibu Music Awards – September 22, 2012. At the awards, Debra stated, ‘Seth Riggs changed the world with his vocal technique, speech-level singing.’ Seth wrote, ‘I believe that the Lord sent [Debra] to me to teach this method.

Debra with Seth Riggs

Richard Miller

Richard Miller wrote, ‘Debra has excellent academic skills that enable her to teach the classically trained singer… and is well qualified as a teacher who successfully deals with popular vocal idioms. I am happy to recommend her as a person of strong pedagogic conviction and of much personal substance.

Debra, along with her associates and students, have trained over 200 Grammy Award, Tony Award, and Opera winners. Debra has sung as a guest soloist, and recorded with the Mormon Tabernacle Choir (now Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square). She has performed around the world and has developed her own vocal training program, Your True Voice

Debra is a testament of how gospel music and finding one’s true voice can change the life of a youth, and how a life can bloom with positive mentorship and a little financial support. Debra’s dream is to transform young people’s lives, giving them hope, joy, and self-esteem, by helping them find their true and authentic voice while singing songs of inspiration. They will then have the necessary tools to accomplish anything they set their minds to.

Flagship Choir

Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir

Everyone is Welcome

The Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir is a multicultural, interfaith choir that is an ambassador of Unity Gospel Choir International. Established in 2014, it has set the standard for bringing hope, healing, and love to our brothers and sisters throughout the world.

Transformational Gospel Youth Choirs

Transforming Lives

It has been our experience through the Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir that people who struggle with depression, anxiety, addictions, and suicidal thoughts overcome these challenges through the power of gospel music and our choir program. Our youth today are struggling. Suicide is the 2nd leading cause of death in young people ages 10-19. We want to replicate the healing impact of our flagship choir as we build Transformational Gospel Youth Choirs all over the world.

Content of Our Training

The choir program includes vocal training, stage fright workshops, transformational and motivational speakers, vision-boarding, journaling exercises and social activities. This program is intended to build confidence and leadership in the youth and fill their hearts with joy.

Unity Gospel Choir-Eswatini

Unity Gospel Choir-Eswatini is our first international choir. They are a powerful and uplifting musical group based in the heart of Eswatini, South Africa. With a mission to empower the youth, this choir seeks to bring hope, healing, and resilience to the community, particularly in the face of challenging adversities such as HIV, orphanhood, food scarcity, and limited access to education.

Through their soul-stirring performances and harmonious voices, Unity Gospel Choir-Eswatini aims to create a sense of unity and solidarity within the community. They embrace the transformative power of gospel music to uplift spirits, inspire faith, and ignite a fire of positive change. By nurturing the talents of young individuals, the choir provides an environment for them to learn skills and use their gifts to face their unique challenges head-on. Through the music and choir program, Unity Gospel Choir-Eswatini instills hope and fosters a sense of belonging, ultimately empowering the youth to overcome adversities and step into a future filled with possibilities and triumphs.

Board Members

Harry Bonner

Harry Bonner

Co-Founder of Unity Gospel Choir International

Kenya Jackson

Kenya Jackson

Grammy Award Winning Executive Producer--Best Gospel Album

Kim Delgrosso

Kim Delgrosso

Owner, Center Stage Performing Arts Studio

Laurel Day

Laurel Day

President, Deseret Book

Kathie Stienagel

Kathie Stienagel

Owner & Director Counting Stars Talent

Mindy Smoot Robbins

Mindy Smoot Robbins

Owner, Utah COPA, Broadway performer

Nate Keller

Nate Keller

Owner, Keller capital, Multi-family real estate development

Staff

Janelle Lysenko

Janelle Lysenko

Co-Founder, Brigham Young Academy Foundation

Andra-Nina Davis

Andra-Nina Davis

Fundraising Developer

Jonathan Lysenko

Jonathan Lysenko

Principal, Orbitax Technology

Mari Joy Asiado

Mari Joy Asiado

Graphic Designer

Gaynor Brunson

Gaynor Brunson

Video Production

Testimonials

“It’s been six months that I’ve been in this choir. Six months that I have grown immensely and healed not only my literal vocal chords, but also spiritually. I had an extremely spiritual emotional experience one night specifically that testified this is where I’m supposed to be. It has been the most incredible experience - being able to share Christ’s gift of love and comfort, once again healing through gospel music. It’s what I want to do with my life, one of the biggest things anyway. The Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir is a gift to the world. It’s cherished by many and I’m so grateful just to be a part of it.”

-Aleia M.

“This choir has changed my life in a way I’ve never thought possible. Before I joined, I struggled with major anxiety and depression that almost seemed unbearable. I needed saving, and more importantly, healing. This gospel music has made my testimony so much stronger and I’ve never been happier. When you are surrounded by people who love the Lord and love the music, you have an unbreakable bond and it is absolutely beautiful. My life has been transformed and I couldn’t be more grateful that I found it.”

-Sophia H.

“The choir has done a lot for me. Before being in the choir, I had been in an outpatient facility. 2017 was one of the scariest years of my life. Long story short, this is my lifesaver and I’m glad to be able to be a part of this choir. Also, I wouldn’t be pursuing my dreams of being a singer if it weren’t for this choir.”

-Jessi Reed.

“Working with Debra has been amazing. She is helping me find my true voice and develop my vocal muscles so that I can sing with a lot more control and ease. She not only helps me with my voice, but also inspires me to be a better person. Debra is a great person, and it has been a pleasure working with her.”

-Nik Day, EFY award-winning composer.

get involved

DONATE TODAY

Your donations play a vital role in our ability to transform lives through gospel music. You are more than a sponsor or donor – you are a catalyst for change. We would like to express our heartfelt gratitude for your contribution.

Unity Gospel Choir International

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