For 28 years Tanya Egler has served as the Director of the Wheaton College Gospel Choir in Illinois. She has traveled extensively with her choir and has had the opportunity to sing at the Gospel Music Workshop of America, How Sweet the Sound Competition, on the steps of the White House and most recently, Seoul, Korea.
Q: Let's get right into the travel. Can you list the places that you have been?
Internationally, I have snorkeled and cruised to Cozumel, Mexico, and traveled to San Juan, Puerto Rico. Just last year I co-led a musical tour of 40 people to Seoul, Korea where we sang gospel music all over the country. I have had the privilege of traveling to Grand Bahama Island, St. Maarten, Virgin Islands, Maui, Honolulu, Hawaii, Osaka, Japan, and Bangkok. I've sung in prisons, churches, nursing homes and had the pleasure of dining on the River Kwai in Chiang Mai, Thailand, and enjoyed the ballet in Mexico City, Mexico.
In the states I have traveled to Cleveland, Indianapolis, Chicago, Detroit, Connecticut, Washington DC, Bowie, Laurel, Maryland. I have traveled all over Florida: Ft. Lauderdale, Ft. Meyers, Palm Beach, Clearwater, Naples, Miami. I have traveled all up and down the coast of California: San Diego, Los Angeles, San Francisco, Fresno, Costa Mesa, Mission Viego, Vista, Santa Barbara, San Bernardino, Irvine, Azusa, Malibu, New Port Beach, and San Juan Capistrano. I have also enjoyed adventures to Dallas, Ft. Worth, Arlington , Sioux City Iowa, Minneapolis, Cape Cod, Martha's Vineyard, Boston, Rhode Island, Oklahoma, Atlanta, Charlotte, Raleigh, Greenville, South Carolina, Birmingham, Brooklyn, Queens, New Jersey, and Mississippi.
Q: So this travel thing is real for you! You mentioned singing in different countries, can you tell us more about that?
A: As director of the Wheaton College Gospel Choir, I have had the privilege of pouring into the lives of students from around the world through music for the past 28 years! Just about every year for Spring Break, we take the choir on the road to where we sing at local churches, give back to the community, and just have a good time with each other.
Besides South Korea, we have been to the Bahamas, Dallas, Atlanta, Florida, California, St Maarten, as well as all over the East Coast and Midwest. My students have sung at the Gospel Music Workshop of America,on the steps of the White House, and at the How Sweet the Sound Competition, where they sang in front of gospel greats such as Yolanda Adams, Cece Winans, Fred Hammond and Donald Lawrence. As a choir director, I do a whole lot more than just direct songs and keep the choir in line. Preparing students for next steps in life after college is my job assignment and I am blessed to be able to work with these students year after year!
At birth, we were all given unique gifts. My job is to light that fire and help the young people get to that place where they are using their gifts to the glory of God. Through Passion Ministries and as a Musical Director of various events I am traveling and sharing my life's experiences through music for the purpose of uplifting and encouraging others and seeing them grow. It's truly life-giving!
Q: It really is a blessing to be able to not only travel and vacation, but also to take your God-given talents on the road with you. I have been giving that very concept a lot of thought lately. Now I know you have been all over the globe, but could you tell me where your favorite trip has been so far and why?
A: Hands down, Maui, Hawaii was my best trip so far because I traveled there in 2002 with my late husband to celebrate our 21st Anniversary.
I loved the ocean, daily afternoon trade winds, laid back lifestyle, luaus, delicious cuisine, and waterfalls. We also spent time in the city of Honolulu and we loved all the historical sites, culture, and beauty! Most of all, driving on the Road to Hana and seeing the HUGE Waterfalls and Black Sand in the beaches of Hawaii were AMAZING!
Q: You have traveled abroad quite extensively, what was your experience like as a black woman?
A: I enjoy learning about others and their perspectives of the world around them. Wherever I go I am also delighted and proud to represent who I am. I love to enlighten others and offer them a glimpse into my culture and the uniqueness of me! I've received a few puzzling and inquisitive looks, but I have not been treated poorly because of my skin in my travels.
Others seem to have found the melanin in my skin to be rather intriguing. In Thailand women would approach us and rub our arms and say in their language "very pretty!"
Q: What is a day in the life of Tanya Egler like? A: I really enjoy waking up and taking my time to start my day. Having time with the Lord through reading His Word at the beginning of the day and singing or listening to music is vital to a successful day. Routine is important as well. Making a cup of tea, a smoothie and daily exercise is also an important part of my day.
Then I'm off to campus to plan events, chat with students and organize ministry for the rest of the day. Often times a concert is scheduled - at least 2-3 times each month. We are currently in the process of preparing for our annual spring concert which will be Saturday, April 14th at Wheaton College in Illinois.
Through it all, the Lord has been faithful. My proudest moment thus far was celebrating 30 years of music ministry with 4 generations of my family and students from all over the world.
Q: Wow Tanya, you are really out here on the move! What kind of work went into getting you where you are now?
A: Training with and observing mentors and other professionals gave me valuable experience even before college. I earned a Bachelor's degree from Kent State University and served at my church for several years before being in leadership positions.
Co-leading with my husband as a Youth Director also gave me a tremendous amount of experience with teens. I also raised 3 teens who are now successfully thriving adults- that comes in handy when dealing with my students.
Q: Can you give some words of encouragement for the young person that has a dream of doing something great but doesn't know what the first steps should be?
A: I would encourage the person to take ahold of their dreams and passionately pursue them! I would connect them with resource people and advise them to have a mentor. I would say find as many events as possible to attend for exposure and creative ideas.
Q: Definitely some good advice. I truly believe that mentorship is an ESSENTIAL component for growth! Can you name a few people that inspire you?
A: Well, Oprah Winfrey has always inspired me to dream big! My mentor Dr. Walter Whitman, founder of the Soul Children of Chicago demonstrates love, creativity, and perseverance. He inspires me to be courageous and move forward with enthusiasm and passion for what I was born to do.
I am inspired by my family who also loves travel and music. My mom and dad who are both in their 80's, who love to sing as well have always inspired me to be courageous and live my best life. My late husband Calvin always told me I could not only sing, but I can do much more to live the rich, peaceful and abundant life God has called me to.
Q: Not only was your husband a great man of faith, he was absolutely right about you living life victoriously- and you clearly took his advice! Can you give my readers info again on the upcoming concert?
A: "MAGNIFY" is Wheaton College Gospel Choir's annual Spring Concert. It will be held on Saturday, April 14, 2018 at 7pm in Coray Auditorium: 421 Chase St. Wheaton, IL 60187 tickets are $5 for students and $7 for general public. Doors open at 6:30 p.m. and the concert will begin at 7 p.m.. The choir has been working really hard to make this concert one to remember and we are all so excited! I am partnering with the Flyy Girl to offer 10 free tickets to the concert to members of the FlyyFam. Come on out and have a good time as we celebrate God's faithfulness throughout the years!
Thank you Tanya for sharing your story with us, and thanks for the tickets! The FlyyFam will be sure to come out strong and support! '
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