US chorale thrills

JOHN SEALY,

Added 24 February 2014

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GOSPEL MUSIC lovers were treated to an exceptional display of singing by the Virginia State University (VSU) gospel chorale at the Frank Collymore Hall on Saturday afternoon. Here as part of the United States Embassy’s celebrations of Black History Month, the chorale took an appreciative audience down memory lane, tracing the evolution of gospel music in the Black American community. Those in the hall could not resist joining in the foot-stomping and hand-clapping musical adventure by the group who left their mark on an audience with songs such as Peace Be Still, Let Everything That Hath Breath, Every Praise and My God Is Standing By. The chorale not only won over its audience with infectious vocals, but the performances were punctuated with lots of well-choreographed movements. “It is every Tuesday and Thursday we rehearse. I make up the choreography and teach them and it takes me a while,” said director Perry Evans. He said the group comprised more than 100 people but only a fraction was able to make it to Barbados. “I am very hard on them,” he added. The group, which has travelled extensively through the United States and Europe, returned home yesterday. Barbados’ own gospel doyenne Paula Hinds could not contain her enthusiasm. But she lamented that local chorales had stopped growing. “Some of these songs [that were performed] I was able to sing them, but VSU have perfected them. I think [our groups] fizzled out. They have won a little accolade and felt they had made it and did nothing more.” Hinds also lauded the VSU for their finesse and musicianship. “You can feel their passion; that they were not just singing words, that they believe what they were singing.” Dr Larry Palmer, United States ambassador to Barbados and the Eastern Caribbean, who gave the opening remarks, also joined in the celebration.

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