COON RAPIDS, Minn. (WCCO) – We first met the Coon Rapids Gospel Choir back in October. They were rehearsing for an appearance that never happened.

They wanted to sing the national anthem at a Timberwolves game – but found out it costs $1,500.

Like most teams, the Wolves set aside tickets for groups that perform at a discount for fundraising. But the choir didn’t have the money to spend, or the desire.

They never did get to Target Center, but the Minnesota Business Partnership saw our story, and it led to a big invitation. The choir was asked to perform in front of 900 people at the Minneapolis Convention Center. Here is their performance:

Gov. Mark Dayton was in attendance, as well as several businesses leaders.

Still, WCCO wanted to encourage them to continue growing as singers. So in this season of hope, we arranged a surprise field trip.

The Sounds of Blackness were rehearsing at the Guthrie Theater for their annual Christmas Show. And the kids were about to become their special guests.

But the surprises were just about to start. We invited them up on stage to meet the three-time Grammy winners – and a whole lot more.

With the help of Slumberland, WCCO gave the choir a gift they’d never had before: performance robes.

And after they tried their new robes on, The Sounds of Blackness wanted to hear a song – “Wade in the Water.”

Then it was time for an encore. Blackness founder Gary Hines had one more surprise for the Coon Rapids Gospel Choir.

“I hear a whole lot of talent…In fact, I believe I hear some future Sounds of Blackness members,” Hines said. “What we want to do is have the honor and privilege of mentoring you, working with you, and doing some joint rehearsals and projects together if that’s alright with you?”

The mentoring actually started right there on stage.

With the help of these seasoned pros, the season of hope is now a season of change.

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