Finding a job after graduation has never been a worry for senior Faith Goins. The voice major will walk in the undergraduate Commencement ceremony on the morning of June 8, and that night she’ll go on stage at the Town Hall Arts Center in Littleton as a member of the tribe in the classic ’60s musical “Hair.”
It’s one of several local productions in which Goins has appeared while studying at DU; others include “Hairspray” at the Arvada Center, “The Color Purple” at the Aurora Fox and “The Wiz” at Dayton St. Theatre in Aurora. It was in the latter performance, she says, that she began to realize the transformative power of live theater.
“A few victims of the [Aurora theater] shooting came to see the show, and they said, ‘That was the first time I felt joy,’ ‘That’s the first time I smiled in a while’ — it was amazing,” she says. “What we do can really impact people’s lives. It’s not just for fun or wanting to be a star.”
Raised in Aurora, where her parents are pastors at Jireh Advancing Kingdom Ministries, Goins has made a life out of singing, dancing and performing. She’s on the Denver Nuggets’ “Rocky’s Super Squad,” which hypes up the crowd during home games; she teaches gospel and praise dance at local churches; and she is a gymnastics coach for the University of Denver squad.
She also is the first woman of color to receive a bachelor’s degree in vocal performance with an emphasis in music theater from DU, a distinction she calls “an honor.” Music, she says, saved her life when she was growing up in a low-income neighborhood with a high crime rate.
“I was very close to going down the wrong path, picking the wrong friends, doing the wrong things,” she says, “and then I blew my knees out doing gymnastics.”
After rehabilitation, Goins discovered her high school theater department, where the directors “were so enlightening and engaging and just loved what they were doing, so it saved me from doing the wrong things,” she says. “It gave me something else to do.”
Still, when Goins first came to DU on a Daniels Scholarship, she found herself frustrated by her lack of musical knowledge compared to her fellow students.
“She grew up mostly singing in church and some in high school, so she had a tiny, tiny little pure voice when I first heard her audition,” says Cathy Kasch, a Lamont School of Music voice teacher who has mentored Goins throughout her time at DU. “But I could tell that she had a special spark of something — that ‘it factor,’ if you will. And that was one reason why I was interested in working with her.”
As a musical theater major, Goins takes classes both in the theater department and in the Lamont School of Music. She appeared in student musicals “A Funny Thing Happened on the Way to the Forum” and “Side Show,” in addition to her professional work. She has more shows booked after graduation, as well as an internship offer from a theatrical production company in New York. She also wants to try her hand at TV and film acting.
“I don’t know where I’ll go, but I know its going to be great wherever it is,” she says. “I will see where God takes me.”
Faith Goins gives her senior recital, “A Journey Through African-American Musical Theater,” at 7:30 p.m. May 22 in Hamilton Recital Hall in the Newman Center for the Performing Arts. Admission is free.