Church honors the Chicago Mass Choir

The choir selected the Chicago Mass Choir as its honoree this year for their tribute.

Church honors the Chicago Mass Choir
July 19
02:30 2018

For more than a decade the Celestial Voices Choir of Hanes Memorial C.M.E. Church have honored a legend in gospel music every year.  This time around the choir has chosen the Chicago Mass Choir as its honoree, with Carmen Russell-Bonham as mistress of ceremonies.

In lieu of a traditional service, the choir uses music from the selected artist to perform the entire service.  The service is usually separated into different sections, chronicling different eras of the artist or group.  The choir has been performing the tributes for the past 14 years.

“This is sort of our choir anniversary, and what we do is we have a committee get together and talk about different artists,” said organizer and choir member, Marvin Blackmon.  “It is really enjoyable for us and it’s a time when we can reflect back and enjoy gospel music.”

“We have had a lot of success and invite friends and family.  We also have a meal prepared for them afterward.”

Blackmon says they settled on the Chicago Mass Choir because they have done several mass choirs in the past and felt it was time for Chicago. 

“We just sat down and started listening to music and we loved all of it,” he continued.  “We sit down and have a listening meeting and go through their tracks and settle on eight or nine songs.”

“We sing everything during the service.  The prayer is a song and the Scripture is a song.  Also before each section, a presenter will get up and give some history about the group.”

Blackmon and his wife, Naomi, have been a part of the planning committee since the beginning.  They stated there have been years when they spent countless hours at the church just to make a final decision about an artist or songs.

The Rev. Clarence W. Cox III, senior pastor of Hanes Memorial, stated he appreciates the committee’s commitment to honoring the gospel legends over the years.  Cox says it is important because gospel music is “really the foundation of the urban church.”

“Many of the groups they tribute, their greatest days of popularity have passed, but the music is timeless even now it stirs the soul and feeds the spirit,” said Cox.  “It also gives our younger people the opportunity to experience and witness what their parents and grandparents experienced as singers in the choir.”

“I have nothing against contemporary music, I enjoy it, but it’s something about when I need to get re-centered, I can go back and listen to those choirs and it gives me a foundation.  I am very excited they have continued the tradition.”

The church normally holds the service during the month of February but due to inclement weather, it had to be pushed back this year.  Cox also credited all the committee members for their constant dedication of the concert. 

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Timothy Ramsey

Timothy Ramsey

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