Larry Bland & the Volunteer Choir helped us launch the Richmond Folk Festival in 2008, when they were celebrating their 40th anniversary. Now they are back to celebrate their 50th anniversary.
Larry Bland & the Volunteer Choir, based at the Second Baptist Church, are a Richmond institution. In a region rich in gospel tradition, this remarkable ensemble—now celebrating its 50th anniversary at the Richmond Folk Festival—has attained a unique status. Recognized as a trailblazer in gospel music presentation, Bland combined elegant and powerful renditions of traditional gospel songs with costuming and precision choreography to create the “show choir,” an innovation that has brought him national recognition.
In addition to performing at local, regional, and national gospel shows, Larry Bland & the Volunteer Choir have performed with the Richmond Symphony and in Richmond Opera Company productions, and have assisted in fundraising for the Virginia Museum of Fine Arts and the March of Dimes Campaign. The ensemble has performed at the inaugurations of two Virginia governors, Chuck Robb in 1982 and Ralph Northam in 2018, as well as for the Queen of England in 2007 as part of Virginia’s Royal Welcome. While they have deep roots in the Richmond community, Larry Bland & the Volunteer Choir have also toured extensively throughout the United States, appearing at venues ranging from the late Reverend James Cleveland’s Gospel Convention in California to Wolf Trap Farm Park