By Beacon Staff
As associate director of enrollment services, Chrystol Ingram makes sure students at Beacon College successfully complete their application process and secure financial aid. But after her work is done, a whole different side of Ingram comes to life. This side is steeped in faith and also carries a message of hope through gospel music, a legacy passed down to her through family and church.
On her father’s side, Ingram’s family has counted musicians, singers and choir directors among its members, while on her mother’s side, a maternal great-uncle of Ingram’s married the first African American female DJ in Florida.
“My great-uncle and then my grandmother and other siblings, all of my great aunts and uncles, they had a musical group, the Fort Pierce Master Singers, and growing up I had an opportunity to attend these rehearsals,” said Ingram, who began singing in the Greater Faith Church of God, in Fort Pierce, when she was nine years old.
“To hear them belting out these notes; it just stirred you.”
It was thus almost impossible for her to avoid a connection with music. Since those days, Ingram, her mother and sister formed a group called Perfect Harmony, which has graced national and international stages. More recently, the group rebranded itself as The Voices of Victory.
Ingram has toured Europe with some notable musicians, including Robin Gibb (of Bee Gees fame), The Simple Minds, Sinead O’Connor and Kim Wilde, with her group later joining forces with the American Gospel Choir, a collaboration of Central Florida musicians who toured Eastern Europe.
Perfect Harmony — which has received nominations by the South Florida Gospel Music Awards for best new gospel group of the year, best gospel trio, and best new artist — has also performed with the world famous Harlem Gospel Choir, known for its powerful vocals
When not touring abroad, Ingram has regaled the American public with her talents, such as during a performance with national recording artist Jessica Simpson at the Disney Parks Magical Christmas Day Parade, a television special that airs on Christmas Day at ABC, and frequent appearances at the House of Blues in Orlando. She also fulfilled the dream of many artists: performing at the Super Bowl, which she did alongside country music sensation Faith Hill.
Ingram, who joined Beacon in 2021, says she does not sing as much anymore, as she has focused on other aspects of her career — she holds a master’s degree in business administration and has extensive teaching and administrative experience. But she still takes to the stage from time to time.
Last January, she sang and performed in “Rise and Shine,” a showcase of local talent that helped inaugurate Steinmetz Hall, the newest addition to the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts in Orlando, Florida.
Although fulfilling her duties as director of enrollment services while juggling singing and performing was demanding at times, she said staying connected to the arts was worth all the effort.
“There were times when I said ‘Oh, my gosh. I’m not sure I can make it … balance all of it,’ but after all the positive feedback — including newspaper recognition — I knew was part of a history-making event.”
Ingram also has tried her hand at acting, including at the Orlando Shakespeare Theater, in Orlando, a talent she is hoping to develop in coming years. In 2015, Ingram had a leading role in “Having Our Say,” a play about two elderly African-American women who lived through the Great Depression, Jim Crow, and the Civil Rights movement.
Produced by Cultural Fusion, the play had an all African-American cast, enjoying success and good reviews. A positive reception led to Cultural Fusion securing a residency at the Dr. Phillips Center for the Performing Arts.
And this summer, Ingram’s background directly will benefit Beacon College students who enroll in her class, a three-week course called “All Things Broadway,” part of the Summer for Success program offered yearly by the college. The three-week campus immersion program helps prepare high-school students with learning differences acclimate to college life while learning and having fun.
Ingram plans to put on an accelerated version of a musical (she is not disclosing its name yet to keep up the suspense) that will get students moving and learning about music. She said she hopes that students walk away from the experience with an appreciation for the art of performing, with a greater understanding of how significantly art has shaped their communities and the world and with a greater sense of confidence to make a contribution to society.
“If students can start to really grab a hold of the power of music; this will give them the confidence they need to interact with people from different backgrounds and on different levels,” she said. “It’s something that helped me; and if we can connect at this singular point, which is music, that’s something you can take across professionally.”