Joyce Garrett joined the faculty of Eastern High School in September 1972 in response to demonstrations by students who wanted to add gospel music to the concert choir offerings. After a few years performing as separate choirs, Garrett combined the Eastern Gospel Choir and the Eastern Concert Choir to form the Eastern High School Choir with the motto of singing “360 Degrees of Music.”
The choir became known locally, nationally, and internationally for its excellence in singing. Its varied repertoire included a large selection of sacred and secular classics, spirituals, blues, jazz, popular songs, and contemporary gospel music.
In the mid-1970’s, Garrett produced original musical productions that were both entertaining and taught life lessons. In 1976, Eastern High School Choir embarked on its first tour of an original musical created by Garrett, “I Gotta Keep Moving,” a musical anthology of black music history which was a huge success with performances throughout the East Coast.
The choir’s growing notoriety led to engagements at local churches, government agencies, and schools. The choir’s accomplishments were celebrated each May with a big Anniversary Concert, featuring notable gospel artists like Myrna Summers, Richard Smallwood, Robert Fryson, and Shelton Becton. Choir members looked forward to wearing new coordinated outfits, performing new repertoire, and enjoying a gala reception.