All 7 entries tagged Gospel

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November 28, 2006

Oh. His. Word. Part II

Follow-up to Oh. His. Word. Part I from [TBA]

Between all the queueing, there was some gospel.

Ever been to what used to be Soul Nation? It was a bit like that inside, but then not as sweaty. And not as smoky. And not as aggressive. Basically a massive Christian dancehall party. Well. And with gospel songs. The DJ and compere played the impatient crowd (having paid 30 quid and already waiting 2 hours for the main act) just about right, having them sing one of the most uplifting and groovy gospel songs (In the sanctuary, by Kurt Carr) as one massive gospel choir. The support didn’t do too bad either, though apart from an great upcoming voice (Roger Samuels) lacked in quality what it had in energy.

Then there was Kirk.

Kirk Franklin is probably the most successful gospel artist alive. Not related to Aretha as far as I know, and mainly working behind the scenes and letting his lyrics and choir do the work for him. He has worked with many famous artists such as Stevie Wonder, Mary J Blige, R Kelly, and U2’s Bono. Anyway, if you’re interested I’m sure you can find out all the good bad and ugly about this man. Or if you’re more interested in what he does, here’s a clip of one of his most accessible stuff.

I’m actually not sure how to review what happened between Kirk entering the stage, and us breathing fresh air. Not having had any proper food all day nor having had much sleep this weekend kind of put me in some standby mode to begin with. I remember grooving lots and thunder clapping Bajan style and holding hands with random people and having a group hug with more random people and holding A Lovely Day for lots of beats over and over again and freaking out another random person for coming in with the Melodies from Heaven harmony. And I remember trying to take a photo with Ali’s phone but being so not with it that once I was happy with the everchanging composition I realized I had my thumb on the wrong button. And I remember the pianist singing in the singing contest whilst no one was paying attention. Even he could sing. And I remember miming the piano bit and Kirk jumping into the crowd and everyone singing bye bye bye bye bye, bye bye bye bye bye bye bye etcetera. It was great. Wish you were there. Low battery now though.

November 27, 2006

Oh. His. Word. Part I

Follow-up to Israel & New Breed from [TBA]

Once in a while I listen to Premier – a Christian radio station that plays some good funky gospel between 11pm-1am. It was there I found out about Israel Houghton playing London. It was there I found out Kirk Franklin was playing London. It was Thursday night when I found out. The concert was last night. Maybe not exactly impulsive, it was one of the crazier things we’ve done in the house.

Spent the weekend with Rev in Olton, Birmingham, doing the usual: singing songs (quite a lot actually, for a weekend away), sleeping and freezing on church floors. I taught a song I wasn’t too sure about, but everyone loved it, though according to Ali it might be because of my chicken on drugs performance, or my face lighting up whenever the tenors (i.e. Jonny and two girls) came in with their harmony.

Got back 1pm on Sunday, ready to leave for Hammersmith, London, 2.30pm. I cheered when tomtom said we would take the M40, but then it guided us along the M4 for some reason as well, where we spent the larger part of our journey down. Through some miracle we managed to find a parking space a 5 minute walk away from Hammersmith Palais, yet we could practically join the queue there. The doors were bound to open 6.30pm, but that’s about the time we joined the queue. That is, the queue to pick up our tickets. Which we didn’t get till 8pm.

We queued a lot actually. To get to Hammersmith, there was only one exit lane which was crammed. The fact that some thought they were too good to queue and do some last minute merging didn’t help. Similar problem in the ticket queue. So what do you do? It seems like most people just hope someone else says something about it. I thought I’d use my Dutchness and loudly proclaim my dilemma with people jumping queues. At least the people behind us knew we were on their side, so helped them stay ahead of the sneaks.

On the way back, tomtom had the great idea of sending us up the M1. She forgot there were roadworks. Even beyond tired, Ali used mathematical wit and picked the outside lane. Indeed, it was the fastest. Mainly because eventually all 3 lanes were supposed to merge on the inside lane. It was worth it though. We saw 3 Noonoos and a man with a fire spitting machine.

April 25, 2006

Israel & New Breed

Live in London
5 out of 5 stars

Scene setting

Methodist Central Hall, Westminster. Capacity of a couple of thousand. As beautiful from the inside as the outside. Spot the 5 white people in the queue. No strip searching. No bag searching. No limits on photography (just a "no flash please"), just a small one on illegal recordings:

If you're caught making a sound or video recording of the concert, your camera will be confiscated. Hold on. No, you can keep your camera. We will confiscate your tape and use it for our radio shows!

Support acts

As we enter, the Hill City Mass Choir are singing a couple of well known worship songs with a gospel flavour. Despite a low early attendance – Ali worries as there is no one sitting in front of us, prompting her cause for concern being picked out to give her testimony on stage and talk about "christians" again – the choir give their everything and set the enthusiastic mood for the rest of the night. Turns out this was only their warmup…

Then we're urged to silence even as people are still coming in, as upcoming hot UK gospel artists Four Kornerz are about to perform. As we're all in a good mood and they're dressed with style, we give them a big cheer and enjoy their gig. Imagine Outkast singing about their love for God instead of you and your girl in your caddy, and you get the idea. The balance wasn't quite right yet (as with Outkast, I could hardly understand the lyrics), but the musicians were great, and yes, the dress sense was good smooth.

The compere of the night was Muyiwa of Premier Christian Radio – if you're interested in gospel or any chilled RnB soul music (that sings about a slightly different kind of love than Usher) then it's a good listen from 11pm onwards. He also performed with his backing singers to keep us entertained, but they lacked the energy of the previous two acts. They had humour though. HCMC came back for a few more songs now with the whole audience joining in – the night was organised by House on the Rock for their 10th anniversary, and both the choir and most of the audience were members. We were more than happy to be part of their celebrations!

Main performance

It's Israel's first performance in the UK (save the one in Birmingham the night before) and he must have been well surprised to get so much enthousiasm from the audience (congregation?). The opening act was a seemingly endless medley of his "greatest hits", his funkiest songs and just one big happy feast of recognition and praise and dance. Let's just say I was happy I brought a bottle of water!

For Nikki: I recognized Another Level; Who Is Like The Lord; Trading My Sorrows; Again I Say Rejoice; New Season; and highlight All Around.

And then I lost track of what happened. It involved lots of amazing solo performances of both band and singers. Whereas I'd expected a few more people, Israel worked with only one singer per part(!) but all so competent that the four of them sounded like 5 million Rev choirs together. After all the hype and funk and dance and oh yes gospel – cue Lord You Are Good – the reflective moment couldn't have come at a better time.

So yes, suddenly Mr Houghton was left on stage by himself (though not after the synth dude helped him sort out his keyboard) to tell us the story of his life. Cue lots of borderline cheesy humour – but who cares? we're having a great time! Also cue lots of audience cheering for recognizing themselves and a rendition of One Love as his Jamaican heritage is being welcomed by the island descendants in the audience.

Eventually, he got to his point and the second half of the concert. Again, my mind wandered off (in the first half it was just me being delirious with all the excitement, this time it was just taking the chance for contemplation) so I'm gonna guess and say Israel was going through some psalms and spontaneous worship. All by himself. By the time I woke up from my deep thoughts, the rest had rejoined him on stage for the finale.

I should say grand finale. I just checked with Ali and Rich and indeed Friend of God was the song to start the dance towards the end. By this time Israel's guitar was working properly as well, and he got to showcase another talent whilst the crew lead us through song. But the London talent got a shot as well, when during Alpha and Omega the band went mute and the hall was filled by the chanting and worship of 3,000 great singers at the height of their worship feast. Now there must have been 2 or 3 more songs here including an encore (after the audience kept on repeating their ooh-ooh-oohs for one song) but the final showpiece of gospel extravaganza was Not Forgotten – some kind of Arabic melody and breakbeat mixture, aka Ali's favourite song.

The Verdict

It's hard to compare a gospel concert to any other, and even within its own genre, this concert was unique. I've seen LCGC (London Community Gospel Choir) perform twice, and they're always engaging, and quality. But in this case I felt part of the concert. The concert was great because I was there (if that makes sense at all?) and took part.

Okay I'll try and explain. I've had the same feeling after seeing Lauryn Hill live ages ago at Pinkpop Festival; Manu Chao 4 years ago at Lowlands Festival (Me Gustas Tu had just been a big hit in the Netherlands); Basement Jaxx last year at the Carling Academy. These artists, and Israel last weekend, seem to welcome you to their ground, their home, and ask you to join in and party with them. I think Lauryn Hill only sang one of her own songs – the rest was just a big DJ hip hop music battle – yet I wasn't disappointed. Israel cut quite a few of his songs short, but I didn't care because it was my party too.

For the untrained spirits or souls there might have been too much worship and praise in this concert. Actually, it was just one massive praise and worship session! But that's what gospel stands for, so it's what you would expect from such an event. Even so, there was so much musical talent and so much energy from both the stage and the audience that there should have been enough to enjoy as long as you accept being welcome.

June 11, 2005

Another Level

5 out of 5 stars

This CD announces a new season of worship. Did that put you off? No? Good. No need to be a Christian to enjoy gospel music (see Revelation, or the Rev audience)! Also, you'd miss out some of the best funk of the last few years if you don't give this a chance!

I'm not really sure about this, but gospel music seems to be getting more popular in Britain. Not that it attracts huge crowds, but with the help of the Love Actually opening scene, and small gospel like backing for Natasha Beddinfield and Joss Stone, people have become more aware of it. Especially soon-to-be-weds simply need a gospel choir for their perfect day.

Although we're not specifically a gospel choir, we do sing a lot of gospel in Rev, and so you get to know quite a few different styles and artists. Some, such as Mary Mary (from Shackels) or R Kelly (though not purely a gospel artist, he has worked with many, and his latest album contains a gospel CD) are better known to the pop loving public than others. Those others will only surface in commercials (I Wish in the Coca Cola commercial) or with a chorus in a hiphop song (Lovely Day) and then still only when the Christian message is latent. Or the public needs the likes of Whoopie or Beyoncť to spread the word.

And then if you really care or if you're really obsessed about the music you dig deeper (search credits of aforementioned artists, pick up any gospel sounding line in films you hear and google it) and find this CD. I was excited about the Snow Patrol CD I got the other day, but this is truly on another level. Basically this CD makes any chore bearable.

I could describe every single song and its amazingness, but I do have other things to do. Really, I do, like listening to this CD again! OK then, first song Who Is Like the Lord is the perfect accompaniment for washing vegetables, and then later towards the bridge in the song, it works with chopping as well! Followed by You Are Good you can start heating the oil in the pan and create some heavenly food with this uplifting music! Could there be more exclamation marks? Well, there are 14 songs so get ready! By Trading My Sorrows it should be about time to lower the heat but keep on stirring. In the mean time set the table so that by the time of I Lift Up My Hands we've arrived at a perfect and lovely song in the background for your dinner! For dessert there's some more lush harmonies ending with the first song which again helps you washing up – in case you need more time, the music is great enough to repeat all!

Okay that might not have helped, but I hope you understand that I'm excited about the CD, and that I think you should be too if you like any uplifting music and love funk and big bands and lush harmonies. If you ever want to obtain such a gospel CD, I suggest you order it from the .com Amazon website instead of the UK one. CD's are cheaper in the US, and even with postage you'll end up more affluent than doing it the UK way. Actually, if money is your thing, I'd suggest you leave the UK for good as this is the most expensive country ever (and no need to be so expensive, island syndrome being a bad excuse) but that's material for another entry.

December 13, 2004

Gospel song links

Just so I won't forget – lyrics for song we sang with the Miraclettes on Barbados:

Lord You're Holy

Lord youíre Holy
Lord youíre Holy
And we lift you up
And magnify your name

As I look around and I see
All the works that your hands have made
The awesomeness of you
And how your love will never fail

Mere words canít express how I feel inside
I canít express your glory, divine
But as a token of my love
This is what Iíll do
Iíll lift my hands and cry, Holy

Thereís not enough words that I can say
To tell you how much I appreciate
All the wonderful things youíve given me
Your loving kindness
Your tender mercy
Itís my desire to praise you
And tell you how much I love you
Youíre worthy of all of the honor
Lord, youíre worthy of all of the praise

I donít know how you could love me
How you could show me so much mercy
You didnít have to suffer and die for me
Way back on Calvary
But I just want to thank you
I thank you
I gotta thank you
I thank you
Thank you
Thank you

And mighty
Shield and Defense
Strong tower and my best friend
Omnipresent, soon coming king
Alpha, Omega, Lord of everything

Youíre holy Lord
Holy, Holy, Holy, is your name
Lord youíre Holy
Iíve got to cry Holy
Holy, is youíre name
The Angeles cry Holy
Holy, is youíre name

You Are Good:

Lord, You are good
and Your mercy endureth forever.
Lord, You are good
and Your mercy endureth forever.

People from every nation and tongue,
from generation to generation,
we worship You.
Hal-le-lu-jah, hal-le-lu-jah!
We worship You for who You are.

We worship You.
Hal-le-lu-jah, hal-le-lu-jah!
We worship You for who You are,
for You are good!

Lord You are good, all of the time
All of the time, You are good.
Lord You are good, all of the time
All of the time, You are good.

P.S. It's not a regular entry so no comments possible. If you do want to comment, please do so on the Barbados entries or send me an email if there are errors in the lyrics etc.

October 18, 2004

Soweto Gospel Choir – NEC Symphony Hall

I had already seen this choir perform in Edinburgh during the festival when they did a one-hour-gig in a church. That performance stirred so many emotions (good ones, that is) that I just had to see them again – even despite the exorbitant price of £23… I'd persuaded a bunch of people from Rev who had no idea what they'd got themselves into!

Was a bit worried when I entered the NEC Symphony Hall – such an enormous space, and most songs are acoustic :S but these people can fill any space with all the energy and enthusiasm they got! Anyway, can't really be bothered to describe the whole concert, but let me just say that fortunately (for me) they had a completely different setlist from what they did in Edinburgh (don't worry, I'm positive it was the same choir!) so I enjoyed it as much as I did the first concert – and 3 out of 5 people who went bought their CD afterwards (I already had one) so I guess it must have left a positive impression! :D

The Soweto Gospel Choir has now finished its tour of the UK, but I'm sure they'll be back seeing the support and enthusiastic response they received from their audiences. So look forward to their next tour!

P.S. I only gave em 4 stars as I'd been listening to their CD a lot before I went and I noticed them speeding up at some points – also, the concert in Edinburgh was better but I guess this music sounds better in a smaller venue than at the enormous Symphony Hall.

October 16, 2004

Happy people indeed!

4 out of 5 stars

I bought this album because I felt like spending money and I was interested in mister Robert's special gospel album (U Saved Me). Turns out that the real gem is the first CD (Happy People), which is some kind of "Marvin Gaye – What's Going On"-esque blend of songs, presented by R Kelly the radio DJ. All songs more or less have the same beat, but it never gets boring as he knows how to produce a song. Definitely great when you're cooking dinner with some friends as I experienced today! The better songs are near the end (Stepping Into Heaven, Happy People – the current single "step to the left, step to the right…" etcetera) but the whole CD is worth the 4 stars (Update 4–12: as opposed to 5, as I will give MJ's Bad 4 stars, which is on par with this CD).

CD2 (U Saved Me) is great overall, but you better appreciate either gospel or R Kelly, or you will go mad in no time! Unfortunately, the songs will not be suitable for Revelation (Warwick Rock-Gospel Choir) as there's a lot of singing by R Kelly himself. Basically, each song ends slowly with R Kelly telling a story and slowly a choir comes in to stress some important remarks (such as "you saved me") until it ends in some climax with the choir being ecstatic and R Kelly singing on top of it. Believe me, I'm loving it, but it's a specific kind of music… Most extraordinary on this one is the threeway phone call between R Kelly, Kelly Price and Kim something – it's amazing how these people can talk and sing at the same time!

Anyway, I would give it 5 stars, but I want to leave the door open for improvement!

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