This posting was to be an instructive piece about avoiding pitfalls of coordinating music for a unified series of events. I had to let that go, when I realized that I would be complaining about circumstances beyond the control of the music coordinator, Valerie Johnson. Valerie happens to be a capable violinist, who serves as Minister of Music at the Park Hill Seventh Day Adventist Church in Denver, Colorado, USA. She is also a strong tenor and a tremendous asset to any group with which she sings. Of course, she did a great job arranging for the music for the series of Evangelistic seminars focusing on the Book of Revelations, occurring 3 times per week for the past 5 weeks in Aurora, a suburb of Denver.
Having combined Divine Worship Services for the 5 hosting Central States Conference SDA area churches for 3 Sabbaths in a row at the Aurora Central High School Auditorium, where the seminars were also held, was an after-thought. However, except for having only 1 microphone for the singers at the first service, it worked out well. From Saturday to Saturday, the 3 predominately Black congregations provided music from their respective musicians and praise teams.
Yesterday was supposed to be the last of 3 combined services. However, the seminars have been extended 1 more week and have been moved to the Park Hill SDA church –right across the alley from McDonald’s. The series will culminate in 1 more combined worship service at the church this-coming Sabbath.
This past Sabbath, yesterday, worship began with a coupla songs from Park Hill’s Praise Team. Nathaniel Black was playing the 88-key Yamaha Motif digital workstation. It is interesting to note that only the “Power Piano” voice was used for the entire service. He likes to play loud –with confidence, but he is a very good keyboardist, who plays a contemporary gospel style with fat chords. A light-skinned Black man, he looks like a nightclub bouncer –with a disarming smile. Certainly, he is one of Denver’s best keyboardists and singers.
Since a single Roland KC-350 amp was used for this instrument, it was louder than the praise team and was breaking up pretty badly. This amp had served OK for the seminar in an auditorium that seated 1000 folks. But with a full band: drummer, bass, sax and another keyboard, clearly a KC-550 was called for –or the keyboard could have been connected to the main P.A. system. That would have fixed the terrible clipping distortion, but it wouldn’t have fixed over-balancing the singers. The fact that the sound man refused to use the on-stage monitor speakers for the singers did not help… Ouch.
Later, in the service, the praise team’s director motioned to me to turn down the other keyboard player’s amp. I was very apprehensive, because turning down another musician’s amp is treading on shaky ground. Yikes! The problem was that the amp was positioned in front of the player, downstage between the audience and the keyboard. So, only the audience got the full brunt of the sound. The drummer was upstage a bit behind the kybd player; so, only the other keyboard player and the praise team could hear the primary keyboard’s, the Motif’s, amp. This really took away from a marvelous performance of REALLY good singers and musicans. I can’t mention every singer’s name, but suffice it to say that these are a handful (6) of the best Black gospel singers in Denver! One of the songs they sang: Daryl Coley’s “Hallelujah, You’re Worthy to be Praised.” The other was Hezekiah Walker’s “Grateful.”
The next song was by the Ghananian Choir. Numbering about 15 and dressed in colorful African garb, they sang acapella, basically, but played a coupla rhythm instruments like African shakers. They immediately started with rich major chord harmonies with call and response and descants. This immediately brought tears to my eyes. Why was I crying? Although I am an American, I am of African heritage. Their singing and appearance touched my soul at the root.
‘Just wanted to mention the other talented musicians: Myself and Randall Conner – keys (we switched off on a Roland RD 700SX digital stage piano and played different sounds –organ, strings, etc. –to compliment the Motif’s piano sound); Myron Nealey – alto saxophone; Walker Groves – elec. bass guitar; Kenneth Boykins – Drums.
At the last of worship in the auditorium, 50 people, who had given their lives to God during the seminars, were assembled at the front and ushered to be prepared for baptism in the school’s swimming pool witnessed by the surrounding congregation. May God be praised!