Hello, OIGC fans. Our blog has been far too quiet this year, and we want to do something about that. Let’s make a joyful noise!
A bit about me. My name is Farley Walker, and I began as the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir Administrative Assistant in mid-March. I moved to California from Mississippi over eight years ago, lured by the purported glamour of the wine industry. While schlepping my way through various Bay Area tasting rooms, I realized I also enjoy helping nonprofits. I have assisted animal rescue groups, an agency that aids abused children, and others. However, I have to say, it’s a beautiful thing to work with an organization whose music makes others so very happy. And I love music—singing around the house, singing in the car, going to concerts, etc.
Having started just after the spring musical, I’ve only had the chance to see OIGC in person twice--once at a rehearsal and then at the Community in Praise concert in April. What I saw both times absolutely blew me away. I later discovered OIGC performed on a song I loved growing up: Linda Ronstadt’s “Cry Like a Rainstorm.” Small world, huh?
When I told my co-worker, Briget, how much I love to sing, she suggested I sign up for the Oakland Interfaith Community Choir. However, I have a regular gig at Cuvée Wine Cellars during the normal rehearsal time. So I’ll have to settle for helping behind the scenes and going to as many performances as possible. Therefore, I am super excited to be working at this Saturday’s OICC concert. The youth choir will also make an appearance, along with some spectacular guest stars. It promises to be an evening of entertainment and delight.
Come join us, won’t you?
Last night my choir, the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, performed a benefit concert for the Ruby Bridges School in Alameda, California. We’ve done that for the past few years and it’s always great. I love our service concerts; prisons, schools, homeless shelters, nursing homes. I sound altruistic, but really, I admit, it’s a little selfish. It feels good when the music touches people down deep and that’s always true when we give it as a pure gift!
Ruby Bridges by Norman Rockwell
Anyway, I was up there in the alto section, robed and ready. The curtain opened and suddenly my heart put two and two together. This “bunch of misfits” (as the director Terrance Kelly likes to call us) would not have been possible, let alone flourishing, without people like Ruby Bridges, Martin Luther King Jr., my dad (he would be so embarrassed to be in the same sentence that way). People showed up, they risked, they walked into enemy territory with no weapon, they went to jail or school or lunch counters and the main point was that we humans needed to be together, not separate.
That’s what Ruby Bridges said last night. Some day, when we are in trouble (and we will be) we will not care what the person looks like who helps us.
That made me think back a few years. My mother was in the intensive care unit for a bleeding ulcer when she hemorrhaged. Blood coming out of everywhere and, through the tiny window in the hall, my wife and I saw person after person rush to her bed. It seemed like the whole staff of the ICU was crowded around that tiny bed (that was very close to the truth, as it turned out). I had just arrived at the hospital and before my wife spoke, I knew things weren’t good. “It’s bad, honey,” she said and moments later, they rushed her out, literally running to the OR. Her nurse, the one we liked the best, came out and gave us the details, betraying his lack of confidence in her chances for survival.
It’s funny what you do at a time like that. I called the section leader from the choir to let her know I wouldn’t be at rehearsal (!) She said, “I can’t believe you’re calling me,” or something like that, and I said, almost as an afterthought, “ask people to pray, please.”
I pray, but in a pretty “equal opportunity” way. “God, whatever you are, whatever is true, please walk with me to the best outcome. Please support me (or whoever I’m praying for) for the greater good.” Stuff like that. Having tried on Christianity, Buddhism, Judaism, Native American practices, and many others ways of looking at the Mystery, I find they all lead to the same place in me, so I don’t discriminate. I knew already that when you ask an interfaith gospel choir to pray, well, you are going to get nearly every kind of prayer known to humankind and that’s part of what I love about the choir. I was immediately glad I had thought to ask.
The days passed and somehow, she lived. Medical personnel found it hard to believe and dropped by her room just to confirm she was still kicking (that was definitely a figure of speech at that point). One told her that he didn’t expect to ever see again in his career someone who lived through what she did. The doctor told us right after surgery that things were a mess and he didn’t even know exactly whether he had succeeded but then, several days in, told her, “well, I guess you’re going to make it.”
All of this was coming back to me up on that stage. I was looking across at Ruby Bridges, who walked, alone, into a river of white kids, the first child, at six, to integrate that southern school and she was surrounded by a sea of at least 50 children, every color, clamoring around the stage and high-fiving our director as they looked up at us, every religion and spiritual tradition, every color too, and a diversity of sexual orientations, reflecting what Ruby Bridge’s courage had helped create.
“Pray for my mom.”
I called the section leader back a few days later to tell her it looked like my mom was going to make it. I told her it was a miracle (I could think of no other word). Then out of my mouth came, “It looks like when we all pray for the same thing, God says, ‘All my people are together; I guess we should give them what they want.’”
Cheryl Jones has been working with people facing loss in their lives for thirty years. Most recently, she has launched a radio show called Good Grief, talking with people who have created something transformative from their experiences of loss. You can learn more about her at her website, weathering grief.com.
Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir *
Facility: Crossroads East Oakland
Host: Stewart Hall
Essence Story by Stewart Hall:
The evening began with the choir backstage. We all held hands as Terrance, the Artistic Director, said a prayer with a simple message: “There but for the grace of God go I”. He then asked everyone in the room to say a word that expressed how they were feeling. Words like hope, joy, peace, thankful, and halleluiah filled the room and the choir was ready for their performance.
The audience was attentive and quiet for the most part during the first part of the show. They were contemplative during the slower tempo songs and more animated when the pace picked up. It was a holiday show and the choir sang a mix of Christmas songs, hymns and gospel. The old school gospel tunes in particular got people clapping, standing, and singing along.
The choir began Silent Night with a moving solo from one of the female members which got a big response and several amens from the audience. “Hark The Herald Angels Sing” featured an amazing vocalist who got the whole room on their feet clapping and buzzing with excitement. They did a modern, upbeat arrangement of “O Come All Ye Faithful” which got people clapping along and dancing in their seats.
A highlight of the show was “Oh Holy Night” with Terrance doing a vocal solo for the first part of the song. He began singing in a deep, moving tenor then switched to a powerful and soulful falsetto with the choir coming in behind him. The audience was visibly moved and gave the choir a standing ovation.
The choir completed the show with a rousing sing-a-long to “Joy To the World” and joy did indeed fill the room.
For more information about Bread and Roses visit: http://www.breadandroses.org/
Saturday, AUG 24, 3-5pm!
Imani Community Church - 3300 MacArthur Blvd, Oakland, CA
BRING YOUR RECORDING DEVICE!
Phone (650) 504-6341 Email firstname.lastname@example.org
Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir names Mark DeSaulnier Executive Director
Oakland, CA, June 3, 2013 – The Board of Director of the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir (OIGC) has announced the appointment of performing arts manager Mark DeSaulnier as Executive Director effective July 1, 2013, succeeding longtime Executive Director Bea Andrade. For more information, visit www.oigc.org .
DeSaulnier brings to OIGC more than ten years of professional management and production experience in the performing arts. He will be responsible for fundraising, board development, marketing, and community engagement, while positioning the Choir for long-term sustainability.
"We are fortunate to have someone of Mark’s experience and training join our organization as Executive Director," said Jack Mahan, President of the OIGC Board of Directors. "He brings more than a successful track record of great technical expertise, but also a deep love of gospel music and a desire to expand the Choir’s reach.”
Terrance Kelly, Artistic Director, is “excited about Mark joining the organization, and I see this as the next step in continuing the work we have been doing over the last 27 years. We are now poised to reach new audiences and continue to enhance our ability to create positive impacts on the lives of the community through our music”
DeSaulnier’s previous experience includes the Christian Youth Theater in Spokane, WA, and the Pacific Symphony in Orange County, CA, among others. Most recently he served as Artistic Director for Peninsula Youth Theatre in Mountain View, CA. In addition to attending and presenting for non-profit arts management seminars and events, Mark is a member of arts organizations such as CETA (California Educational Theatre Association), the Philharmonic Society of Orange County and the Theatre Bay Area Association.
DeSaulnier had this to say about his appointment: “I am honored to join OIGC in its mission to bring unity and inspiration through music. There is such a rich history to build upon, and I look forward to supporting artistic excellence and expression, as OIGC continues to reach out nationally and internationally.”
The Gospel Academy Award-winning Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir is a multi-racial, interfaith group of 55 vocalists united in their love of gospel music with its message of hope, joy, unity, and justice. The Choir was founded in 1986, led by Emmy-award-winning co-founder and Artistic Director, Terrance Kelly. Under Kelly’s able direction, the Choir’s musical excellence and mission has flourished. OIGC is committed to improving the exposure to and the understanding of spirituals and gospel music by providing access to new, diverse, and underserved or institutionalized audiences.
For more information, visit www.oigc.org .
SF JAZZ opens it's Gospel Brunch Series with the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir!
A treasured Bay Area institution, the 60-voice Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir will raise the roof of the Miner Auditorium with a pair of rousing Saturday morning performances, accompanied by an optional brunch seating at Charles Phan’s South at SFJAZZ before and after the shows.
JUNE 15th and JUNE 22nd (click on the date to purchase tickets)
This Friday, Feb 8, 2013, the Glorious Light from the Cathedral shines brightly for three evenings of prayer, art and music. Come early for a tour of the Cathedral at 7pm for $5.
Tickets available at www.ctlcathedral.org.
Donation: $20 advance; $25 door - Children under 12 FREE
Thanks again to everyone who came out to the Holiday Concert this past rainy Saturday! It was a fun concert, and we are always blessed and so thankful to perform at the beautiful and historic Paramount Theater!
Here are some of the comments we've received the past few days:
OIGC believes that song, and music, has the power to transform lives, and for healing! Learn more about our Mission, Values, and Beliefs: http://www.oigc.org/aboutmission.html
....and we received this beautiful comment through our website:
Thank you for a most beautiful concert last night. It was our first time, invited by friends who have been coming to see you for years. The first note from Hear My Prayer was so clear and full of light that it broke my heart wide open. You are further proof that music is the purest form of prayer. And prayer is just what I need. My husband and I will be back as often as we can. ~Barbara C.
Do you have Photos or Videos to share?
Do you have photos or videos to share of your experience before, during, or after the Holiday Concert at the Paramount? We would love to see them! Tag us on Facebook, or email them to oigc.outreach [at] gmail and we'll put it in our Your Point of View album!
You can now follow OIGC on Instagram! Check out some "Behind The Scenes" photos of OIGC