Voice of ‘Music & the Spoken Word’ Lloyd Newell announces end of Tabernacle Choir service

Lloyd and Karmel Newell will begin serving as mission leaders in summer 2024

With emotion in his voice, Lloyd Newell, host of the The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s weekly “Music & the Spoken Word” broadcast, announced Sunday, Dec. 10, that he and his wife, Karmel Newell, have received a call to be mission leaders starting in July 2024.

Their assigned location will be announced later. Newell will continue to serve with the choir until they depart, according to the announcement from the Tabernacle Choir published on

“I cannot express what an honor it has been to serve the past 34 years as announcer and writer of ‘Music & the Spoken Word’,” said Newell. “Our call will allow Karmel and me to welcome a new service opportunity. Until then, we will continue to enjoy every week with our dear friends in the remarkable Tabernacle Choir.”

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President Michael O. Leavitt and Lloyd Newell stand at the music conductor’s podium in the Conference Center.
The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square President Michael O. Leavitt, right, with “Music & the Spoken Word” announcer Lloyd Newell after the announcement that Lloyd and Karmel Newell will serve as mission leaders beginning in 2024. They made the announcement during a rehearsal prior to the “Music & the Spoken Word” on Sunday, Dec. 10, 2023, in the Conference Center in Salt Lake City. | Kate Turley, The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square

Lloyd Newell has been the announcer of the weekly broadcast for more than three decades. Karmel Newell has been the Tabernacle Choir’s director of member support for the past 18 months.

“We are delighted for Lloyd and Karmel, yet we understand the challenge associated with replacing this icon in inspirational broadcasting,” Tabernacle Choir President Michael O. Leavitt stated in the announcement. “Lloyd is trusted and admired by millions who have become accustomed to his soothing voice and wisdom on Sunday mornings. We will savor the remaining months of Lloyd’s weekly presence.”

Mission leaders for The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints are assigned to a specific geographic area and are responsible for supervising and training hundreds of missionaries during their service. Most mission presidents and their wives serve for three years.

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Lloyd Newell records upcoming portions of “Music & the Spoken Word” inside the Conference Center.
Lloyd Newell records several upcoming portions of “Music & the Spoken Word” inside the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Wednesday, April 7, 2021. | Scott G Winterton, Deseret News

‘Spoken Word’ announcers

The Tabernacle Choir at Temple Square’s Sunday morning show first aired more than 94 years ago on July 15, 1929, with 19-year-old Ted Kimball standing on a ladder to reach the microphone to announce each musical number.

Richard L. Evans was the first regular announcer of “Music & the Spoken Word” from the summer of 1930 until 1971 — more than 41 years. Spence Kinard presented the “Spoken Word” from 1972 to 1990.

Newell’s first official time presenting the “Spoken Word” was on March 31, 1991. He had been filling in since the end of November 1990.

When he was extended the calling, President Gordon B. Hinckley, then a counselor in the First Presidency, said it would be until further notice.

“And now that further notice has come,” Newell said when he told the choir and orchestra during rehearsal Sunday morning. His wife and daughter Abby stood off to the side of the stage as he made the announcement.

“We will go where we’re asked to go serve. ... This is not ‘goodbye,’ this is ‘we’ll see each other over the next many months,’” he said.

“There’s nothing like it in all the world,” he said of the choir organization. “And I am nothing but grateful that I’ve had these years of association with each one of you.”

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Lloyd Newell practices with the Tabernacle Choir for the Music & the Spoken Word at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City.
Lloyd Newell practices with the Tabernacle Choir for “Music & the Spoken Word” at the Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Sunday, Oct. 17, 2010. | Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

In an interview with the Church News in 2021, Newell said President Hinckley told him this call would change his life. “President Hinckley was right, it has changed my life and my family’s life for the better. He understood it far better than I did. … I think he certainly had a greater vision for it than I did at the time.”

Newell had worked as a television news anchor and at the time of his call was traveling the world as a corporate trainer and consultant.

He since has been teaching at Brigham Young University as a professor of religious education. Karmel Newell is an adjunct professor in BYU’s Marriott School of Management.

With the onset of the COVID-19 pandemic in 2020, the choir and orchestra were on hiatus from performing. In late 2021, he began writing new “Spoken Word” messages and inserting them into the encore “Music & Spoken Word” broadcasts until the choir and orchestra began live performances.

Since May 2021, he has also been serving as a counselor in a young single adult stake presidency.

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