Gospel music has a way of taking you to another place.
Each note or lyrics can elevate you to a level, where the jagged edges of life’s most persistent problems are somehow softened.
Where the day’s stresses are washed away like water down the drain after a warm shower.
It can envelop you like freshly laundered sheets after a long hard day.
Gospel music acknowledges the frustrations, the hardships and the journey of everything you are going through.
And more importantly, it promises that God will see you through it all.
Adam Parker’s account in Sunday’s paper about two longtime gospel groups, The Travelling Echoes and The Lucas Sisters, shined a spotlight on a longtime tradition in the black community: groups singing praises to God. It’s a good read. Check it out.
Communicate in songs
Many in the black community learn to sing gospel in church choirs on Sunday mornings.
And just about every Sunday afternoon, there is a gospel singing somewhere in the Lowcountry.
Whether it’s a church choir celebrating its or its pastor’s anniversary, a gospel group performing, or churches holding revivals, there will be singing.
Many learn to sing the gospel as tiny tots in youth and sunbeams choirs; along the way, they are taught discipline, togetherness, sharing, perseverance and love for God and one another.
Herbert Beard, who has been with the Echoes for 26 of his 48 years, aptly described the music to Parker.
“It’s the way African-Americans have communicated their problems since the days of slavery, and music contains a spiritual component that enables big ideas to be expressed through song.
“It’s a form of communication about how the individual feels”: about God and love and life and death.
It gives voice to the voiceless.
The Rev. Ed McClain, a former member of the Echoes said, “And everybody has a voice.” Even those sitting in the pews. For they can sing, too.
I have loved gospel music all my life. I started singing gospel since my first year in college in the 1970s, and have been singing in church and community choirs ever since.
I now sing with the Charleston Symphony Orchestra Gospel Choir, a group of blacks and whites, young and not-so-young who love gospel music.
It is my passion; my escape after a long day at the office. And finding other like-minded people to share that with is pure harmony.
Sometimes when I am singing (or listening), I get that euphoric feeling that becomes the emotion of the moment, and it can be contagious.
For example, a few years back, the CSO Gospel Choir was singing in Leipzig, Germany, where the audience became emotionally involved, crying, as we sang “Total Praise” or “God Is.” I don’t remember which but these are two of my favorites.
Well, several people in the choir began tearing up also. We all held hands to encourage each other to hold out but something else happened instead.
Each of us started getting emotional, one after another, until it spread across the whole choir. It was all we could do to finish the song. What a euphoric moment!
We were in that place.
The music had taken us there.
Reach Assistant Features Editor Shirley A. Greene at 937-5555, or firstname.lastname@example.org.