On Saturday, June 2, 2017, the Washington Performing Arts’ Men, Women & Children of the Gospel Choirs celebrated their silver anniversary with a concert fittingly titled, “Renew.” The night was hosted by Jacquie Gales Webb who brought a sense of subtle elegance as she introduced each musical journey. And the night was just that, a musical journey. The collective choirs took the audience on a path that careened through diverse styles and genre.
The night began with a spirited rendition of “Psalm 150/Let Everything that Has Breath,” that showcased the combined choirs with the Children of the Gospel alumni. That was followed with Thy Name Be Praised/Excellent Lord that featured Joy King backed up by the combined choirs.
There were a few unique pieces that debuted. The firrst, “DC Water,” written wqby American folk and blues musician Toshi Reagon was commissioned by Washington Performing Arts President and CEO Jenny Bilfield for the WPA’s 50th birthday. The song weaved a passionate tale of water and how it ebbs and flows as some areas face a water crisis. There was also a duality in the song as it also evoked water as a metaphor of life: “A reflection of your soul in the condition of the water.”
The first part of the night ended with The Children of the Gospel performing Donald Lawrence’s passion song, “Matthew 28.” This was a tour deforce for the choir and a solid end to the first series of songs.
The second part of the evening was riveting. Stanley J. Thurston, Artistic Director of Washington Performing Arts’ Gospel Choirs premiered “Dwelling Place” which was both reverent and rousing in its delivery. Annisse Murrillo was absolutely stunning on her solo performance of “You’ll Never Walk Alone.”
C. Anthony Bryant wowed the audience with a medley of songs by Richard Smallwood. Bryant mesmerized the audience with his musical stylings and creating an ethereal feeling throughout the auditorium. The night ended with the Combined Choirs jubilantly singing Hezekiah Walker’s “Better.”
Men, Women & Children of the Gospel Choirs’ debut CD, Why Do We Sing? was also released that night. For more information on the choir, visit www.washingtonperformingarts.org.