In what has become a much-anticipated annual event, Seattle’s Total Experience Gospel Choir comes to Bainbridge Island Jan. 20 for another day of musical good times honoring the life and legacy of the late Dr. Rev. Martin Luther King, Jr.
Sing Out! is a day-long event centered around the Filipino American Community Hall on High School Road. It starts with a black gospel choir workshop which runs from 1-5 p.m. For the record, you don’t have to be an African-American to participate in the workshop, you just have to have soul. Being relatively able to carry a tune is a plus, although no one is turned away. The workshop will cover the tradition of black gospel singing, from field chants and spirituals to today’s modern gospel music.
Community members participating in the workshop become the 2007 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Choir, and perform an evening concert with the Total Experience Gospel Choir.
Total Experience Gospel Choir was organized in 1973 at the Mt. Zion Baptist Church of Seattle by Pastor Pat Wright, who still leads the group. The core group represented members of the Black Experience Gospel Choir of Roosevelt High School and the Franklin High School Gospel Choir of Seattle.
They united and took the inclusive name, Total Experience Gospel Choir. The choir’s numbers grew to 108 within the first two months, with the youngest person being 8 years old. Choir members’ ages now range from 6 to 65.
The multi-racial choir has grown into an internationally-known group, with performances in 38 states and 22 countries.
In 1989 the group was the first black gospel choir to sing in the Mormon Tabernacle in Salt Lake City, Utah, accompanying the Mormon Tabernacle Choir.
Bainbridge is a world away from Utah, but the day promises to provide plenty of community-building, bonding and lift-your-spirits singing. Just the anecdote for a winter’s day.
The day also includes a dinner at 5 p.m., and today (Jan. 17) is the last day to reserve a place at the table.
Sing Out! with the Total Experience Gospel Choir and the 2007 Martin Luther King Jr. Memorial Choir takes place Jan. 20 at the Filipino American Community Hall, 7566 NE High School Rd., Bainbridge Island.
Tickets for the workshop or the 7 p.m. concert are $12 adults, $6 students. To reserve call (206) 842-4164. Proceeds will benefit Helpline House on Bainbridge Island and other non-profit groups to be decided.