On March 8th, 2018, members of the choirs from the First Unitarian Church and Mother Bethel AME in Philadelphia collaborated on a peformance together of a program of songs that illustrated the musical breadth of the Gospel Roots of Rock and Soul project.
The show was a musical collaboration between the First Unitarian Church – under the musical direction from John B Hedges – and Mother Bethel AME – under the musical direction of Jonas Crenshaw, Jr. Here are three outstanding performances from the show. Reverend Nicolas O’Rourke delivers a passionate and rousing version of “Oh Happy Day,” originally recorded by the Edwin Hawkins Singers, and released in 1968. “Oh Happy Day” went on to become an international hit song, and has been covered by hundreds of musicians over the years. Hawkins a Grammy Award for Best Soul Gospel Performance in 1970.
The two additional performances below include an arrangement of Richard Smallwood’s “Total Praise,” and a glorious rendition of “The Storm Is Passing Over,” written by Charles Tindley and arranged by Donald Vails.
Listen to the full concert peformance and see photos from the event here. The band for the evening included: Bredt Showell (drums), John Hedges (bass), Simon Martinez (guitar), Earl Knight on organ, Keith Ivey and John B Hedges on piano.
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.