*Gospel music is an integral part of the African-American songbook, especially during February’s annual Black History Month.

But gospel music is soulfully inspiring — to everyone — the 11 other months, too.

And so Sunday and Monday, Good Neighbors will devote back-to-back columns on the gospel sound, which reaches out to many different cultures.

Terrance Kelly understands this sound as well as anyone. He’s director of the Interfaith Gospel Choir, which appears regularly with the Oakland East Bay Symphony, and which also rocked Slim’s in San Francisco on Christmas Eve.

“It reaches into the hearts of people,” Kelly said of gospel music, “no matter what their backgrounds. Even if they don’t necessarily agree with the theology of it, they can feel the spirit of it.”

Kelly was interviewed Monday at San Francisco State University, where he’s helping his cousin — Ja Ronn Thompson, of Oakland — prepare the school’s gospel choir for two evening shows Sunday, May 15, at Yoshi’s in San Francisco.

Both the Interfaith Gospel Choir and the S.F. State Gospel Choir are composed of different ethnicities. Kelly knows why gospel spreads it music so wide.

“It makes your day better, it lightens the load,” he said. “Most music has an emotional connection, but gospel is the most barrier-breaking. People will say, ‘Oh, that got me.’ You gotta feel it.”

Read the full story here.