Sunday, April 18, 2010

Beyond Sunday Music

I love gospel music. Three things moved me as a child to fall in love with gospel music. As a lad I would watch televangelist Rex Humbard every sunday morning. My dad preferred the guy with the crystal cathedral. I also liked Katherine Kuhlman, Oral "Heal!Heal!HealTheySoul!" Roberts, and Bishop Fulton J Sheen. But mostly because those three were kind of creepy. I even got my dad to take me to go see Rev. Hmbard when he came to a city near us. Even went down front when called. My folks thought I would grow up to be a minister. That didnt work out so well. Later we went to see some distant cousins that were in a traveling gospel show. But this was white gospel. It was ok but it didn't really move me. A grew up in a small farming/college town in the Northwest where we just didn't have a lot of black culture out in the wheat and bean fields. My love of gospel music really began when a man named Chauncey came to sing at our church. My parents hated it. Brother Gardner brought true black southern gospel music to me that day and I was forever changed. Sadly the next year, as I recall, he killed himself. But thanks to brother Gardner, God rest his soul, I was on my way.
I have been fortunate to see The Blind Boys of Alabama a half dozen times. I large venues and small. Before they started doing gospelized versions of popular songs. Each show was staggering. Powerful enough to bring the hardest atheist or hard shell Primitive Baptist to their feet. Seeing them many years ago on PBS starring in The Gospel at Colonus was just as powerful as the live show and different from anything i'd ever seen before. Read on:

"A renowned collaboration between experimental theater director Lee Breuer and composer Bob Telson, THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS retells Sophocles' classical tragedy Oedipus at Colonus through the medium of modern gospel.

This filmed version of the much-lauded 1985 Philadelphia performance traces the epic storyline of the original text, while also interweaving aspects of Oedipus Rex, Antigone, and the Christian salvific narrative. Taking up the dramatic tension and emotional turmoil of classical tragedy and infusing it with passionate, inventive performances and an electrifying gospel and soul inflected musical montage, the production also features an unforgettable cast, including Javetta Steele, Isabell Monk, Robert Earl Jones, Carl Lumbly, Clarence Fountain and the Blind Boys of Alabama (who collectively play Oedipus), and, as the Messenger (and here Pentecostal preacher), Morgan Freeman. Freeman's commanding oratory to a rapt live audience recasts classical rhetoric in an African-American gospel mode, impressively fusing Hellenistic myth and Christian parable.

Finally available on DVD, THE GOSPEL AT COLONUS showcases the pinnacle of postmodern theater and captures live drama at its most vibrant, daring, and innovative. "

Stop Do Not Go On

Who is This Man?

A Voice Foretold

Lift Me Up (Like A Dove) 

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