As I reflect over the last several months of excitement and anticipation (and hard work!), one particular concert stands out for me.

I have never worked an event like the 29th Annual Holiday Concert before.  When OIGC started selling tickets, I wasn’t sure what to expect. Then I was all in: fielding questions from choir members and potential attendees, processing ticket orders, sending out VIP invitations, selling ads, editing the program, crafting the stage décor, you name it.

The day of the concert, I woke early for one last run for items for the choir and crew. Then cases of donated wine, stacks of water, boxes of granola bars, bags of clementines, and the glittery OIGC wreath filled my little car to capacity. When we stopped to pick up the poinsettias, I didn’t think they would fit. But luckily, my husband is a master packer from our many camping trips.  Then we unloaded at the Paramount, and for the next several hours I was running up and down stairs, filling dressing rooms with waters and snacks, arranging decorations, running down the street to coordinate the community choir’s dinner, and more. My Fitbit tracked about 25,000 steps that day, and I felt every one.

But once we settled into our balcony seats on the front row, it was worth every step, every errand, every double and triple checking of ticket orders. From J-Red’s amusing chatter to the excellent youth choir performance, especially “Take Me to the King”, the concert started strong and continued to climb.  The community choir nailed it with their two songs, and Alfreda Lyons-Campbell was a fabulous addition to “Nothing.” And the ASL interpretation by Half-n-Half was entertaining and a little mind-blowing as to how they could put so much energy and personality into each song.

The night was elevated further once the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir took the stage.  I have seen them perform at rehearsals and other concerts, but this was something altogether different and incredible. Every song was special, but some of the stand outs for me were “Glory Song,” “Psalms 150” (a consistent favorite of mine) and “Jesus Will.” And then the over-the-top moments: Kid Beyond singing and beatboxing on “God’s Gonna Trouble the Water,” Kim Burrell joining the choir for a bonus “There’s Something About That Name”, and Terrance belting out my favorite Christmas hymn, “Oh Holy Night.”  

But the ultimate moment was “Lawd, How Come Me Heah?”  I had listened to it many times on the OIGC cd,Great Day, but never heard it live. When I saw the song on the set list, I gave a little woo-hoo at my desk and ran to ask Terrance who was singing it. He answered Nicolia, whom I hadn’t heard on a solo before. So when she took the stage, backed by the choir, I inched forward, waiting. Then her voice rang out loud and clear, as the Imani Ya Watume dancers personified the pain of a slave losing her child. The emotions rolled from Nicolia’s voice through their movements to pour across the stage and into the audience. I had goosebumps up and down my arms and legs and tears on my cheeks. Even thinking about it now gives me the chills.

After that heart-wrenching performance, the choir lifted us up again with “It’s a Good Day.” But that moment of beautiful pain will be with me for years to come. And that, my friends, is why I am proud to be a part of OIGC.