January 11, 2017
Ovations Offstage Director Catherine Anderson, had the good fortune to attend services at the Green Memorial AME Zion Church, on Munjoy Hill in Portland, Maine on Sunday, January 8th. Reverend Lewis, a member of the Seeking Resonance Advisory board and Catherine had a discussion about the joyful and participatory nature of gospel music captured in part here, for our audience members in advance of our January 20th performance of The Jones Family Singers at Merrill Auditorium at 8:00 PM. Last year Reverend Lewis and members of Green Memorial Gospel Choir shared their voices and comprehensive knowledge of gospel music during the pre-performance lecture prior to The True Blues and Campbell Brother’s Sacred Steel gospel show.
CA: Last year, prior to our presentation of the Campbell Brothers you told me that “A gospel concert is a participatory sport, so be prepared.” Would you care to clarify? What did you mean by that?
RL: Did you notice the difference yesterday at church once the drums were added? Or the reaction to the rendition before prayer of the simple call and response song, “Try Jesus”?
CA: Yes, the volume went up from everybody! The room seemed to wake up. I was so pleased when you had the band take it from the top one more time!
RL: It is an encounter not a performance. Bad notes and all. Lol!
CA: What advice might you have to offer an audience member who has never had the good fortune to attend a live gospel concert before? How might it be different than attending another type of performance?
RL: Gospel music, like many other genres is a form of worship-an invocation from the spirit. What may look different about this is how our audience members feel called to respond to this joyous music.
CA: That is a great reminder, and to that end we are asking ushers to allow audience members to stand up, clap, move in their chairs or even in the aisles as they feel so called.
RL: Yes, the Seeking Resonance Series seeks to create an open and affirming space for all performers and guests, so it may be necessary to consider different types of response as “normal” and “acceptable” for this to be realized. In short: this band is a full on electric joyful family band that is not coming to perform to a seated crowd.
CA: How will the Jones Family Singers KNOW the audience has done their homework, and come to fully enjoy the performance?
RL: Oh, they’ll know as long as the people in the audience are given the permission to treat the Merrill like the house of worship that it is intended to become when Pastor Jones leads us there with his guidance, talents, and all the members of this gifted family band.
Learn more about The Jones Family Singers and what to expect when they arrive in Portland on Friday, January 20.
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