ABILENE – Friday morning at Cooper High School, two more names were added to the school’s hall of fame as Christa Black-Gifford and George Hogan joined the long list of Cougar greats to be inducted into the hall.
The 86th inductee into the Cougar Hall of Fame is Mrs. Christa-Black Gifford, Touring as a violinist, guitarist, and vocalist for more than a decade with artists like The Jonas Brothers and Michael W. Smith, Christa’s songs have sold millions of copies and been sung around the world.
In 2012 and 2013, Christa had her first No. 1 radio hit as a songwriter when Passion’s version of “One Thing Remains” topped radio charts. And in 2017, she won a prestigious BMI songwriter award when Kari Jobe’s song “Forever” became one of the most performed songs of the year.
While on tour with The Jonas Brothers, Christa began a blog for the millions of young girls following her journey That blog turned into her first book deal and God Loves Ugly was released in 2010. In 2014 Christa unexpectedly lost her daughter, Luca Gold ‘Goldie’ Gifford, inspiring her to write her second book Heart Made Whole. The book debuted at No. 1 in two categories on Amazon and continues to be a resource for those struggling after tragic loss
In 2018 she founded and began The Woman’s Circle, an online gathering of over 1000 women from 17 different countries around the world, teaching about inner healing, feminine wholeness, and finding the joy and sacred nature in everyday life. Currently she lives on the beach in Costa Rica with her husband Luke of 14 years and their three children: Moses, Birdie and Loxley.
Our 87th inductee to the Cooper Hall of Fame is Mr. George Hogan. A three-year member of the Texas All-State Choir 1975-77. Hogan was a participant in the International Youth & Music Festival in Vienna, Austria (1976), and was the Merry Andrew Winner in 1977. During his college years he continued his successful singing as he made an early professional operatic debut in 1979 which was also televised on PBS.
During his auspicious international singing career, he was heard on NPR Radio, performed on “Live from Lincoln Center” roadcasts, and was a guest artist for an entire season with the Australian Opera where he performed in the famed Sydney Opera House. He went on to enjoy appearances throughout Europe and in nearly every opera house in North America. He has been awarded grants and prizes from the William Mattheus Sullivan Musical Foundation, International Luciano Pavarotti Competition, the San Francisco Opera Merola Program, the George London Voice Competition and the International Arturo Giargiari Bel-Canto Voice Competition.
After his singing career, Hogan attended Southwestern Baptist Theological Seminary, where he received another degree and began a twenty-year teaching career. During his time as a college professor he made his New York City directing debut at Carnegie Hall where he directed several world premieres in a production called “Opera Shorts.” He also found time to serve as the Artistic Director for the Natchez Festival of Music in Natchez, Mississippi for three seasons. Currently, Hogan and his wife Penny live in Belton and they have two married sons, Max and Joey.