Gayle and Trey McLaughlin at the piano.
Gayle and Trey McLaughlin at the piano.

Paine College choir director comes full circle

Music and Paine College have always been a part of Trey McLaughlin’s life.

“When he was 6, he’d come to the rehearsals. He knew all the parts,” said his mother Gayle McLaughlin, who brought her son with her to Paine College’s choir rehearsals. She worked there for 46 years, recently retiring as the assistant registrar.

Trey McLaughlin wears many musical hats including as adjunct professor at Paine College and director of the college concert choir he practically grew up in.  His love of Paine, he said, was instilled at an early age.

His mother saw his musical abilities early on.

At 4 years old, he was part of a musical performance at the Tabernacle Child Development Center.

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“He got up, and he was ready to sing. They gave him a microphone,” said his mom, who admitted being a little apprehensive about what might happen next.  “It was the first time I heard him. He really could sing.”

Throughout his childhood, he sang. Gayle McLaughlin said that she always knew when he was coming home from playing. She could hear him singing outside.

While in the seventh grade, he was asked to join Creative Impressions, a choral ensemble founded in 1996 by Evelyn Ellis for singers between the ages of 11 and 18.

Trey McLaughlin leads a choir rehearsal at Paine College

At first, Trey McLaughlin, who is now the director of Creative Impressions, told them he wasn’t interested. Two years later, he received a second invitation. By then he was a freshman at John S. Davidson Fine Arts Magnet School and this time he said yes.

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He was mostly self-taught until he went to Davidson and his experience there combined with Ellis’s tutelage at Creative Impressions shaped him even more. After high school, he attended The Schwob School of Music at Columbus State University, where he received a degree in musical performance with an emphasis in vocal pedagogy.

Trey McLaughlin. Courtesy photo

He sang with the University Singers and Chorale and was a member and past president of the professional music fraternity Phi Mu Alpha Sinfonia. He directed G.E.N.E.S.I.S. — Columbus State University Gospel Choir.

Trey McLaughlin, who was named the Greater Augusta Arts Council’s artist of the year in 2018, also serves as director of worship at Tabernacle Baptist Church and is the director of the Sounds of Zamar, another musical group that has performed with gospel greats such as William McDowell, Kierra “Kiki” Sheard, Brian Courtney Wilson and James Fortune.      

With all of those experiences under his belt, he’s come full circle and back to Paine College, where his roots are. At Christmas, he was once again at a Paine College choir rehearsal with his mom, and he still knows all the parts.

“I’m reviving a music program. The choir has a really strong legacy under people such as Dr. Phyllis Anderson,” he said.

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The choir was forced to take some time off because of the pandemic. At Christmas, he brought in some Paine College and Creative Impressions alumni to sing with the students.

Despite directing multiple groups and being extremely busy, Trey McLaughlin is excited to be part of the Paine College choir’s renaissance.

“I love this school,” he said. “I want it to be great. It’s like a clarion call to help them.”

Charmain Z. Brackett is the publisher of Augusta Good News. Reach her at Subscribe to the newsletter here.

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3 responses to “Paine College choir director comes full circle”

  1. Piccola Smith says:

    I have the honor of not only knowing Trey and his mother but singing with him as part of the praise team and mass choir at Tabernacle Baptist Church. The work he’s done is absolutely amazing to also include oversees workshops as well. He uses his talents to train students of all ages and his personality is so humbling. What a joy to work with a master who is fun, loving and full of purpose. Congratulations my son. This recognition is so well deserved.

  2. Gregory Stafford says:

    Congratulations, job Well done.

  3. Stone Veronica says:

    Trey your God given talents has blessed so many people, including me. Jeremiah 29v11 tells us God has a plan for our lives. Continue to follow His plans as he continues to direct your path. Congratulations ❤️