IF?YOU?are into gospel music: the foot-stomping, hand-clapping and high-spirited kind – and you were not at the Frank Collymore Hall last Saturday afternoon to see the Virginia State University Gospel Chorale on stage – you missed out on an experience.
The occasion was the United States of America Embassy’s contribution to Black History Month. And the VSU was in to celebrate the moment with their American counterparts and by extension Barbadians who were invited freely to the City venue for a free presentation.
Not only did the VSU tell the story of gospel as sung by Black America, but they showed how various genres can be used to bring alive the gospel music without compromising its message.
Their performance was also enhanced by tight choreographic moves, the result of lots of hard work by choreographer Perry Evans.
It is unfortunate that a number of gospel choirs could not have been present to see how VSU treated the genre. There was no inhibition. They were on point for terms of the interpretation of the music, a quality which seems to be lacking among the local gospel units.
The VSU really showed that they put in lots of time in their choreography and each routine really spoke to the audience as they moved to the rhythms of the ensemble.
Even this observation was made by local gospel singer Paula Hinds who lamented that the conservative nature of local gospel groups seemed to inhibit them from owning the performance.
Speaking to Evans, VSU director, it was no surprise when he said that they rehearsed for hours two days a week with the chorale which numbers over 100 members.