Blending the vibrancy and spirituality of traditional gospel music with funk and blues rhythms, the Alabama Gospel Choir’s appeal crosses generations and reaches out to everyone. Following in the great traditions of the Aeolian Choir, the Jubilate Vocal Ensemble and the Tuskegee University Golden Voices, the Choir takes audiences on an uplifting journey from the spiritual songs of the 19th century African-American community, with their strong religious roots, to the music’s role in the era of freedom marches across the United States and beyond.
Right from the beginning, gospel singing’s African influences added rhythmical clapping and synchronised movement to the music’s beat. It influenced great jazz and blues singers, including Ella Fitzgerald, Aretha Franklin and Dinah Washington, in a religious and popular musical crossover that continues today. The Alabama Gospel Choir concert begins with singers, religious entertainers and pastors in spiritual songs such as Pearly Gates, Shut De Door (Keep the Devil Out) and When I get to Heaven (Happy Day), before paying a moving homage to songs familiar from protest and freedom marches, including Go Tell It on the Mountain and Down by the Riverside. Exuberant solo and choral singing matches the emotional impact of both words and music throughout, a potent mix that raises the roof and brings audiences to their feet with enthusiasm.