Gospel music is in the house – the house of God that is.
The Amazing Gospel Experience 2013, is a workshop and concert spearheaded by Tennessee-born musician Eric Dozier and North Carolina jazz and gospel vocalist Kim Pacheco. It returns to Victoria with a larger-than-life concert choir featuring 125 singing, clapping and dancing musicians filling the air with the sights and sounds of southern and contemporary gospel music.
“What is fascinating for me, is it’s people from all walks of life. There are agnostics, and people who are involved in other spiritual practices. It is simply the full-body experience of singing the gospel music that (people) are looking for,” said Oak Bay United Church musical minister Gordon Miller. “There is an appetite for the musical genre.”
Under the tutelage of the two mentors who travel and deliver the workshops internationally, the sold out three-day clinic features a lineup of vocalists from Seattle, Saskatchewan and the Lower Mainland, all of whom congregate at the Oak Bay church for the finale Sunday, Feb. 10.
“Kim and Eric are both steeped in the tradition of passing on the singing just by listening and participating,” Miller said. “The gospel sound is singing with full body, full spirit and full engagement. That sometimes doesn’t happen when you are stuck to a hymn book.”
Both Dozier and Pacheco are no strangers to the island. Dozier, a former resident of Duncan, founded the One Human Family Gospel Choir there and Pacheco returns for her eighth appearance with past visits highlighted by performances at Hermann’s Jazz Club, the Victoria Conservatory of Music and numerous previous workshops – an avenue she is excited to revisit to share the tradition of her gospel roots.
“The process of getting there is a huge challenge because people are often thinking how can I possibly learn eight or nine or 10 songs, with no written music to look at,” Pacheco said. “The ultimate outcome is a full-body experience. … 125 people all moving, clapping their hands, breathing … it is not an individual singing. It is a mass, moving, breathing, singing and engaging together.”
Pacheco said the music isn’t just for Christians, and hopes celebrating the music leaves race and religion behind and brings awareness to the origins of traditional songs like Hold on just a little while longer.
“It was one of those songs that was indigenous to slave days,” Pacheco said. “That told you freedom was coming soon, it won’t be long, all you had to do is hold on, pray on, wail on and everything is going to be alright.”
The spirit of that song, among many others, will be on display when the massive choir arrives at the church as individuals and perform on the choir loft as one.
“You won’t be sorry, it will be the best $10 you ever spent,” Pacheco said. “Come to be a spectator in this thing – by the end I promise you – you will be a participant.”
The Amazing Gospel Experience Choir performs at Oak Bay United church’s free regular service Feb. 10 at 10 a.m. and the choir’s full concert is at the same location at 3 p.m. Admission is $10.
Pacheco also performs a solo show at Hermann’s Jazz Club on Feb. 9, at 8 p.m. Tickets are $15 at the door.