A not so ‘Silent Night’ in Santa Cruz

 

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Sunday evening we drove to Santa Cruz for our annual treat of a Gospel concert. We parked easily and heading to the Auditorio to enjoy the powerhouse that make up the Jubilation Gospel Choir.

The show was listed it as a Gospel and Christmas Event with songs such as “Have Yourself a Merry Little Christmas,” “Silent Night,” and “The First Noel.” So I was really looking forward to tunes we all know and associate with this time of the year. I felt it would be extra special because the Jubilation Choir have sung with many famous singers including Queen Latifah, Dionne Warwick and their Tenerife concert was to be dedicating to Ray Charles, as they have the distinction of being the last choir to perform with the music giant.

When it came to take our seats, as anticipated, they gave us a great view of the stage. The auditorium was packed with all nationalities and all ages.

Now anyone who knows me knows I am not religious, but I love music and for me gospel with its roots in African-American religion is not about forcing folk to believe in god but about the use of harmony and music to make people feel uplifted. Therefore, in my naivety I expected as I had seen in previous years, a happy, clappy, singalong show.

What we got TRUE gospel. I felt, along with the whole audience, we had been transported to a Pentecostal convention in Alabama, Kentucky, or another State in the Deep South of America. A place where the Reverend’s voice boomed at the congregation to ‘Praise the Lord’, and get on their feet to show their faith.

I felt a little disconcerted; the majority of the audience were on their feet, hands raised in the air declaring their love for the Lord. A couple of people were so entranced they clambered on stage and danced around, even given a microphone so everyone could hear them chanting ‘I Walk with Jesus’. I quite expected someone in a wheelchair to be cured and end the night dancing.

I cannot emphasis enough how flamboyant the singers were, the harmonies beautiful, the few songs I knew such as ‘Oh Happy Days’ and ‘People Get Ready’ made popular by Eva Cassidy were certainly inspiring, but I felt I had been to an evangelical recruitment evening rather than the anticipated Christmas concert I had anticipated.

 

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