Spotlight On: Brenda Lancaster

Brenda Lancaster, Director of the Gospel Choir
Program: Music

Shine the Light

Shine the Light is a series of interviews conducted by L&C's Science of Happiness class spotlighting faculty and staff members who make a difference in our community and the world.

Name: Brenda Lancaster
Degree: Music Business
Years at L&C: 3
Role: Adjunct faculty in Music Department, Director of the Gospel Choir and Vocal Coach for Rock Ensemble

What brought you to L&C

Q: When you were young, what did you dream of becoming?& Why?
A: I wanted to sing and dance. I just have that in me; it is like a gnawing in the pit of my stomach.  I knew I was going to sing.  I began singing at the age of seven.  I wanted to sing before that, but they wouldn’t let me because they thought I was too little. 

Q: What did you do before starting at Lewis and Clark?
A: I was minister of music at the Greater St. James Baptist church which I have belonged to all of my life. I am and was the director for Riverbend Community Choir. Before I pursued music, I was a construction carpenter for 20 years. 

Q: What brought you to campus?
A: I was asked to come to the college to develop the Gospel Choir which would give the students another choice for the required ensembles for their requirements. It was an honor to be able to contribute to the music department as an alumnus.

Your work at L&C

Q: What is your favorite thing about working at Lewis and Clark?
A: To be able to connect such an extraordinary academic institution with students in the community, giving them the option to continue their education in the same community that they live in. 

Q: How does your work connect with your beliefs about the world?
A: I can’t sing about loving everyone and talk about the love of God as I understand him and sing about unity and fellowship and being one people – I can’t sing about that and then have my life display something else.  It calls me to a higher standard of living.  What I teach requires me to be at a different level in my own life because I want you to believe what I am singing about. There is a message to it. 

Q: What did you really enjoy about students?
A: Helping them accomplish something that they otherwise would never have tried to accomplish. In doing so, it helps build confidence in other areas of their education and in their life goals in general. 

Q: What do students expect from you and what do you expect from students?
A: They can expect the best that I have to give musically with discipline and loving commitment to get the best out of them.

Q: What can a student do to help you?
A: Students keep me grounded and remind me that I haven’t always had it together, and that it has been a process – same process that they are experiencing now. They also help me recognize that everyone’s story isn’t the same and it is the differences that make our lives richer. 

Shining a Light

Q: What outside or on-campus activities do you do that helps people stay connected and positive? How do you contribute to making this world a better place? Why do you think that that is important?
A: I go a little further than others might go. I can’t be someone I am not. I can’t pretend I am someone I am not. I go the extra mile. If it makes a difference in a student’s life, that’s all that matters. I have all my students’ numbers. They can access me at any time. If anything is going on like in everyday life, they know they can call me. It can be music related or just a living problem, if I can help, then I do. When students leave Lewis and Clark, I want to have impacted their lives in a way they won’t forget.

Q: What is your advice for students?  What words of wisdom would you like to share (yours or others)?
A: Be the best you that you can be. You’re not someone else.  Just be you because we all have a purpose in life and when you are the best you that you can be, you’ve done your best.  

Q: What are you doing to stay positive this difficult year or what do you do when you feel anxious or down?
A: I continue to participate in projects like this to remind me that even though we are apart, our kindred spirits still touch one another. 

Q: What are you passionate about and how does that affect your work/ how you connect to your work?
A: I am passionate about pursuing and fulfilling my purpose in life and recognizing that everyone’s purpose is different. I recognize that my students have purpose too, and sometimes that is to teach me to be a better instructor, a more positive influence, and a more caring human being in general. 

Q: What are you looking forward to in the future of Lewis and Clark?
A: To see a bigger influence in the Alton/Godfrey communities. To see better recruitment strategies with a special focus on minority communities. To become a leader in progressive academic programs in the country. 

This interview, is a part of our “Shine the Light” series, brought to you by L&C’s Science of Happiness class. For more information, contact