Advertisement

Harlem choir makes a joyful noise in Hagerstown

March 02, 2013|By MARIE GILBERT | marieg@herald-mail.com
  • The Harlem Gospel Choir has performed around the world. They will bring their show to The Maryland Theatre on Friday.
Submitted photo

They’ve been called “Angels in Harlem.”

And it’s a pretty appropriate tag.

Using their heavenly, note-blending voices, members of the Harlem Gospel Choir lift the spirit, touch the soul and share the joy of their faith.

And, hallelujah, they are helping to preserve a form of music that has spoken to audiences beyond sacred places — influencing jazz, blues, soul, country and rock.

For more than two decades, the Harlem Gospel Choir has shared its high-energy, hand-clapping, inspirational performances with people all over the world.

The singers have appeared across the United States, Europe, Asia and Canada, performed at music festivals, charity events and Carnegie Hall and have entertained children and adults, royalty and religious leaders alike.

What makes gospel music so universal?

“It’s joyous and inspirational, which people of all cultures and creeds can appreciate,” said Anna Bailey, the choir’s manager. “And, especially in these times, everyone needs inspiration.”

The Harlem Gospel Choir will bring its dynamic show to Hagerstown when it appears at The Maryland Theatre 7:30 p.m. Friday, March 8.

The evening will include an opening performance by the Neshema Dance Company and a second opening performance by Zion Baptist Church Choir of Hagerstown.

Kelly Wright will serve as master of ceremonies.

The preeminent gospel choir was founded in the late 1980s by Allen Bailey, who has worked in the entertainment industry for more than 40 years. He was promotional director and advance man for recording artists and film stars, including Lionel Richie, Prince, Michael Jackson and Mr. T.

He also assisted the East Coast production of the charity single “We Are The World” in 1985 and worked in a similar capacity for “USA for Africa” in 1986.

After attending a celebration in honor of Martin Luther King Jr. at The Cotton Club in Harlem, Bailey decided to form a gospel choir that would include the finest singers and musicians from Harlem’s black churches and the New York area.

Anna Bailey, wife of the founder, said there are 40 people between the ages of 22 and 50 who are part of the choir, “but we perform with nine singers and two musicians.”

While the choir has a passion for sharing its music, Bailey said it also shares a message of love and inspiration with thousands of people around the world.

The theme of every performance “is bringing people and nations together and giving something back,” she said.

It’s also an opportunity to create a better understanding of the African-American culture and how gospel music relates to the black church.

Bailey said the group has had the honor of being invited to perform for a long list of well-known people but “certainly performing for Nelson Mandela and Pope John Paul II were very memorable, as was working with Bono (U2’s frontman) and, most recently, Trace Adkins.”

In addition to worldwide tours, Bailey said the choir performs on Sundays at a gospel brunch at B.B. King’s Blues Club in New York City.

“It’s been inexistence for 12 years,” she said, “which is an amazing run. We get people from all over the world and also local New Yorkers who bring out-of-town guests who celebrate birthdays and anniversaries with us.”

As part of its ministry, the Harlem Gospel Choir opened a spiritual retreat in 2009 for children from Harlem who are given an opportunity to spend a day in a peaceful, nature-filled environment in the Poconos in Pennsylvania.

The choir also is involved in a number of charities and causes, including Doctors Without Borders.

This year’s Train to Glory Tour will once again be taking the choir around the world.

But every stop will be pretty much the same, Bailey said.

“Each concert will feature some very talented singers and musicians who will perform a dynamic and inspirational show,” she shared.

Advertisement
The Herald-Mail Articles
|
|
|