MSU Custodial Choir (Staff)

The MSU Custodial Choir, pictured at a Christmas party wearing red shirts and white scarves.

A special group at Mississippi State is making a joyful noise during the holiday season.

In the early 1990s, former MSU custodial supervisor Johnny Bush noticed a trend among the custodians working on campus – many of them were active in their respective church choirs in the local community.

Bush’s observation led to the creation of the MSU Custodial Choir, which custodian Ella Rice has been part of for about 25 years. The group showcases their talents two or three times a year, usually during the summer Staff Appreciation Day and at the annual Christmas party for Campus Operations staff members.

For Rice, the choir allows her to do something she loves–singing—and gives her a chance to meet some of her co-workers who share her passion.

“I’ve met a lot of people through the choir,” Rice said. “This makes you feel like you have a second family.” The choir is currently an all-female group of about a dozen members, but men also have participated in previous years.

Yovonka Chandler is director, and, like many in the choir, she has spent her entire life in or around church choirs.

Chandler, who has been the choir’s director for the last seven years, said she enjoys her time with the choir and seeing the positive response her group gets when they perform on campus.

“I’ve been at MSU for 10 years, and I’ve been singing ever since I’ve been here,” Chandler said.