Recap of an Evening of Spirituals and Spiritual-Inspired Songs with Mother Bethel AME Mass Choir and the First Unitarian Church Choir

Bruce Warren Blog Home Row 2 Listen Watch

On March 8, 2018, the First Unitarian Church in Philadelphia hosted the first GOSPEL ROOTS OF ROCK AND SOUL concert. “An Evening of Spirituals and Spiritual Inspired Songs” was a collaboration between the First Unitarian Church Choir, under the musical direction of John B Hedges, and Mother Bethel AME Mass Choir, under the direction of Jonas Crenshaw, Jr.

The program consisted of performances by both church choirs along with a full band and singers that illustrated the roots of gospel and gospel’s influence on contemporary music. The evening brought members of the community together for an uplifting and moving night of music that showcases gospel music and the influence it has had on secular music. Listen to the full show below.

SONGS IN ORDER OF PERFORMANCE
I’ve Been ‘Buked and I’ve Been Scorned (arranged by Hall Johnson – c.1925)
City Called Heaven (arranged by Josephine Poelinitz)
The Storm is Passing Over (Charles Tindley arranged by. Donald Vails)
Take My Hand, Precious Lord (Thomas Dorsey)
If I Had a Hammer (Pete Seeger, Lee Hays)
I’ll Take You There – Staple Singers cover (Al Bell)
Oh Happy Day (arranged by Edwin Hawkins)
Bridge Over Troubled Water – Simon and Garfunkel cover (Paul Simon, arranged by John B Hedges)
Still Is The Night – Sam & Dave cover (Eddie Floyd/Booker T. Jones)
Yes (Valencia Lacy)
If You’re Out There – John Legend cover – (Arranged by Jonas Crenshaw, Jr.)
Total Praise (Richard Smallwood)

INSTRUMENTALISTS
Bredt Showell, drums
John Hedges, bass
Simon Martinez, guitar
Earl Knight, organ
Keith Ivey, piano
John B Hedges, piano

VOCALISTS
Suzanne Burgess (City Called Heaven, I’ll Take You There, Bridge Over Troubled Water, Yes)
Cory Walker (Take My Hand, Precious Lord)
Rev. Nicolas O’Rourke (Oh Happy Day)
John Hedges and John B Hedges (Still is the Night)
Tyrone Neal (If You’re Out There)

This article was written for WXPN’S GOSPEL ROOTS OF ROCK AND SOUL.
GOSPEL ROOTS OF ROCK AND SOUL has been supported by The Pew Center for Arts & Heritage.

All photos by Ellen Miller for WXPN