A group of Lynwood High School students who petitioned school administrators to form a gospel choir won first place in their category Saturday night in the prestigious McDonald's Gospelfest.
The 41-member group, called the Chosen Generation, was making its first appearance at the long-running gospel event after forming less than a year ago. With a cheering section of fellow students in the audience, the choir won with a high-spirited performance that earned a standing ovation from a crowd of more than 3,000 in the Shrine Auditorium.
Runners-up in the youth category were the First AME Church Pasadena Youth/Young Adult Choir.
Antwon Martin, the Chosen Generation's choir director, said the group was stunned when its name was called.
"They just screamed and hollered and went crazy back stage," said Martin, a Lynwood High teacher.
Martin said the youngsters were too tired to celebrate much Saturday night but that parents and teachers are planning a banquet to honor their achievement.
Winners in the adult category were the Jubilant Voices of Holman, a 25-member choir representing Holman United Methodist Church of Los Angeles. Christian Unity/SADOC of Los Angeles placed second in the adult division and the New Greater Circle Mission Unity Choir placed third. Winners in the group category, composed of four to eight members, was Glendora-based Sanctified.
Gospelfest, in its 19th year, attracts some of the best amateur gospel performers in Southern California. The event benefits local youth and educational organizations and last year raised $50,000 for the Ronald McDonald House Charities and the African American Future Achievers Scholarship program.