Choir music is undoubtedly one of the most beautiful and expressive forms of worship in the church. On Sunday, October 30, Mike McCoy, Minister of Music at Bethlehem Baptist Church, and a gifted recording artist in his own right, took the helm as Rev. Dr. Darrell K. White and Bethlehem Baptist Church presented the Voices of Bethlehem Mass Choir live recording at the church in Alexandria, VA. DC Gospel radio legend Jacquie Gales Webb served as the evening’s host.
It was a night filled with wonderful music and expressive dancing mixed with spiritual anectdotes along the way. What was especially notable was that many of the songs chosen for the recording were written by writers from the DC area, including Pastor Marvin E. McCoy, Derrick M. Anderson Sr., Sherrie Nobles, Kendall King and Latonya Wrenn. Oscar Williams Jr., a friend of McCoy’s rounded out the list of writers who penned the songs that echoed through the church.
After prayer by Pastor Andre McLeod and scripture by Minister Lovette, the choir got things started with “Christ is All,” followed by “Enter His Gates.” Next up was the Marvin McCoy-penned “God Is My Refuge” led by recording artist Ronnette Harrison who continues to amaze with her vocal dexterity. Harrison uses her voice like a well-polished instrument and her voice seems to skillfully caress each note.
As Mike McCoy attempted to introduce “Oh How Precious,” a praise break erupted. When the choir finally sang, they delivered a pulsating song punctuated by soloist Gloria Riddick. Back for her second time at the mic was Ronnette Harrison. According to McCoy he called her in the wee hours of the morning to learn the song, “Hallelujah.” The audience was in for another treat when consummate worshipper and Stellar Award winner Stephen Hurd came to the stage, extending the worship experience and carried it to its ultimate crescendo.
One of the most poignant moments of the evening occured after a beautiful performance from Bethlehem’s praise dancers. McCoy called one of the young praise dancers to the stage and told the audience that not long ago, the young lady was at the bottom of a swimming pool and had been in a coma, but was at the recording, able to dance and move. The audience cheered and stood to their feet, thankful for the miracle that stood before them.
Perhaps summing up why this recording is so significant, McCoy told the audience, “a lot of choir songs are missing today and we wanted to bring some of those songs back.” It appears that mission was definitely accomplished!
Other songs of the evening included “We Bless Your Name.” PJ Morgan took command of the organ on a powerful prelude to “Even Me,” a song that allowed the choir to masterfully display their vocal prowess. Popular singer Twanda Rhinehart, known for her ballads showed her versatily on the uptempo, “I’ll Let Nothing Separate Me.” Rhinehart flew in just to sing for her long-time friend, McCoy. Ron Chase delivered on the plaintive “Heal Our Land.” As Chase sang the words to 2 Chron. 7:14, one couldn’t help but reflect on the timliness of the song.
After expressing thanks to his many supporters, including a warm tribute to his brother, Marvin, the choir finished with a flurry, closing with “I Just Can’t Stop.”
Many DMV artists came out in suppport of McCoy and the choir. Y’Anna Crawley, top promoter Kenny Taylor, Phillip Carter, Kendall King, Robert E. Person, Jimmy Russell, Michael White and Brian Spriggs were among those spotted in the crowd.
Mike McCoy and the Voices of Bethlehem Mass Choir spent most of the summer rehearsing and preparing for the concert. That preparation paid off and came through in each note, each movment and the uniformity of execution. This is a recording that is worth adding to any collection when it is released.