It’s Saturday night, which means, for most church choir members, it’s time to make sure uniforms are out, robes are pressed, shoes are shined, hair is presentable, and alarms are set to be sure that we arrive on time and ministry-ready in the morning. So tonight’s blog is a shout out to the church choir. The ones who rehearse weekly, sing for multiple services, travel with the Pastor, and repeat this week after week and year after year.
Several years ago, my choir and I went to minister at one of our “sister churches”….wait…time out….do people still use the term sister church? Do churches still have other churches that fellowship with regularly and know each other’s members almost as well as their own? Cooking food…ok, wait, I digress. We went to sing at this church for their choir anniversary. The emcee for the night, Isaiah Thomas, a local DC artist made the statement just before we sang that the power of music ministry has been given to the church. However, because the church has not handled it with the utmost care and responsibility, we now have community choirs that are taking music ministry and choir music to the masses. He began to name several of the church choirs that really laid foundations in gospel music for the rest of us, such as Kings Temple COGIC under the direction of Benny Cummings, Love Center Choir, pastored by the late Bishop Walter Hawkins, and also the Institutional Radio Choir, who we ended up ministering one of their signature songs “Satisfied With Jesus”. The way the Spirit of the Lord filled the room that night as we went down memory lane and allowed the anointing to flow.
As I reflect on that evening, I began to think of several church choirs that are currently making waves, some which are still going after decades of ministering to the masses and making an impression on the gospel music industry as well as their local assembly. An article I read recently on religionnews.com stated that while 40% of caucasian churches state that they do not have a choir anymore, 90% of black churches still have choirs going strong. In the black church at least, the church choir is alive and well! Here are a few worth mentioning, to include a few of my absolute favorite church choirs, as well as a few noteworthy new comers.
The Anointed Voices of Ford Memorial
I first heard this choir one night probably about 15 years ago at a late night musical. They got up to sing around two o’clock in the morning, and they were singing as if it was 11 o’clock on a Sunday, driving this one song, in the vocal rafters, for about 10 mins . I later bought their cd “It’s Our Time! But It’s For God’s Glory!”, and became even more of a fan. Their straight church style, polished sound and look, and anointed vocals make this choir a definite stand out, whether they are ministering at a musical among community choirs, or on Sunday morning at their home church under the leadership of Bishop Andrew Ford. Their latest release “We Still Serve A Mighty God” stays true to their church choir calling while taking it up a notch, if that’s even possible.
The Bishop’s Choir of Grace Cathedral
I think there’s something in the water in the Philly/New Jersey area. I first heard this choir one Saturday evening at a concert in Delaware. They came in super lowkey, but once they opened their mouths, I was forever a fan. Based at Grace Cathedral Fellowship Ministries in Trenton, NJ, the choir is under the direction of Minister D. Corey Shipley, and under the pastorate of Bishop Jerome Wilcox. One year I went to their choir anniversary, and the guests artists were running late in their arrival. The emcee said “One thing about having your own choir, you don’t have to wait on anyone else to sing for you,” and sing is exactly what they did. This choir’s poised presentation and clean vocals make them one of my favorite church choirs anywhere, and a definite favorite at musicals up and down the east coast and abroad. Pick up one or all of their cd’s: “God Has Been Good to Me”, “Trust Him”, “Be Steadfast”, and be on the lookout for their future endeavors.
Bishop Larry Trotter and Sweet Holy Spirit Combined Choir
Is there a such thing as a church choir from Chicago that can’t sing? I certainly haven’t heard one! This choir has been recording and making waves in gospel for over 2 decades. I think every church choir has sang or attempted to sing “The Lord is Blessing Me” at some point. (Try singing that tenor line to the vamp without pausing.) This choir keeps traditional, Sunday morning, user-friendly material in the forefront of gospel music today. Their release “Praise Revisited” includes many church choir standards including “Lord I Wanna Thank You” and “I Trust In God”. I recently heard snippets from their upcoming release, and true to form, church choirs will have more great music coming from these trendsetters. Be on the lookout!
Dr. F. James Clark and the Shalom City of Peace Choirs
This church choir out of the St. Louis area and under the leadership of Dr. F. James Clark has come on the gospel music scene recently with not one, but two of their church choirs in regular rotation. I first heard “We Praise Your Name” by their Mass Choir during a Sunday morning worship service and had to go find the song and album, where I also discovered another Sunday morning gem “When I Think” among several others. You know how some songs just “feel good”? Yeah, both of these songs fit the bill. Later I heard “You Are” by Shalom’s Next Generation Choir on XM Radio. This song gave a completely different feel but was equally as good. Go pick up both projects for your library and for your church choirs. I look forward to hearing more from this church music ministry in the near future.
Fire Baptized Holiness Church Choir
I was perusing Instagram, as I often do, and I stumbled across this project. I went to check it out and realized that they were from right here in the Washington, DC area. Great production, catchy songs, and straight up church are the defining marks of this choir and their project “FBH Live!”. Some favorite picks from the project are “Bless His Name” and “Jesus Jesus”. Take a listen and add this choir to your music library. As an up and comer, this choir has a promising future in gospel music.
Pastor Linwood Dillard and the Voices of the Citadel
Another church choir that is spreading their wings with a new project is the Voices of the Citadel, under the leadership of Pastor Linwood Dillard. This COGIC church choir has already released one project entitled “Churchin With The Citadel”, and has now released a new single “Take It To the Lord In Prayer”, which is a tribute to the late Rev. Timothy Wright, a name that is synonymous with good Sunday morning church music. Go and pick up their project from 2012 as well as their hot new single.