Rehearsals are under way for the Spirituals Choir’s 14th (I think) season. If you’ve ever attended one of our presentations and thought this is something you’d like to be part of — now’s the time. Lower voices — altos, tenors, and basses — are especially welcome, but if you’re a soprano, don’t let that stop you. We rehearse at 6 p.m. every Wednesday afternoon in the Windemere recreation room. It’s most easily reached from the parking area behind Martha’s Vineyard Hospital. If you want directions, leave a message and I’ll get back to you.
This year’s repertoire includes some regulars, like “Where Will I Be When the First Trumpet Sounds?,” “In Bright Mansions Above,” “Rise, Shine, for the Light Is a-Comin’,” “Done Made My Vow to the Lord,” and “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel?” Others, like “There’s a Meeting Here Tonight” and “Nobody Knows the Trouble I’ve Seen,” are familiar enough, and some are new to most of us, like “It’s Me,” “I’ve Been Toiling at the Hill,” and “A Wheel in a Wheel.”
Singing these songs, and learning more about the enslaved people who created them and kept them alive, is a powerful and transformative experience. Several of these songs are helping me get through the very troubled times we’re in now. People whose situations were far worse and more hopeless sang to make their lives bearable and to imagine a better future. Their songs renew my spirit and give me hope. Come join us!
Flyer from our 2017 presentation at the West Tisbury library
Spring is here, director Jim Thomas has returned from Virginia, and our first rehearsal is set for Wednesday, April 26, at the usual time (6 to 7 p.m.) and in the usual place: the recreation room at Windenere.
Please encourage your singing friends to join us! All are welcome, but lower voices are especially needed to balance our sound.
Planning for our spring and summer 2017 performance schedule is now under way. If you have an idea for a venue where the Spirituals Choir hasn’t sung before, or hasn’t appeared in recent years, let me or Jim know.
Looking forward to seeing you on April 26!
Here’s the second in a series about members of the Spirituals Choir, why we sing and how we got here. C’mon, all you past and present singers: let’s hear from you!
Roger Thayer: I met Jim Thomas 40 years ago in the Paul Hill Chorale in Washington, D.C,, where we sang many, many concerts in the Kennedy Center. Jim was one of our star soloists. Then I was pleased to meet him again at the Vineyard Haven ilbrary, where he lectured on the slaves and African memorabilia. He and Georgia Franklin invited me to attend a meeting in her living room, where we started the NAACP Spirituals Choir which preeceded Jim’s USSSP.
I will sing as long as my voice holds out.
The Spirituals Choir at East Chop Light, July 2012. That’s Roger in the yellow shirt, seated, over toward the right.
This is the first of a series introducing members of the M.V. Spirituals Choir and why we sing. Thanks, Paula, for kicking it off.
Paula Martin: “I sing in the Spirituals Choir because I support Jim’s outstanding educational and accurate accounts of the slave movement. His unique presentations, through narratives and singing spirituals, deepens my understanding of and appreciation for my own family’s history. Being a part of this group truly enriches my life and makes me so very proud of my African-American heritage!”
Paula sings every chance she gets. She’s been in the Spirituals Choir
for 10+ years and is a mainstay of the alto section.
That’s Paula at top right, from our performance at the West Tisbury Congregational Church in August 2013.