By CAMERON NIXON
On Feb. 19, 2013 all in attendance were treated to a wonderful celebration of black musical history presented by Georgetown College’s Joyful Noise Choir.
After an introduction by Emcee Landen Wilson (who also happens to be the director for the Joyful Noise choir and one of the soloists for the night), the choir sung their first song: “Living to Living Again” by James Hall. The choir would open and close the night with their songs.
Mr. Charles F. Little, Jr. was the first soloist. He told a story of his background growing up in a Methodist church, but being surrounded by music from all kinds of different backgrounds including Catholic, Baptist and Holiness traditions. He played one song demonstrating the different ways it would sound if played by each group. His resurrection of historical black church music delighted everyone in attendance.
Mr. Little was followed by solos from four students in a row, all accompanied by Mr. David Gierlach on piano. Samuel J. Gilbert III sang “Never Said a Mumblin’ Word,” a slow spiritual song about Jesus on the cross. Nikita Taggart followed him with her rendition of “Summertime,” by George Gershwin and DuBose Heyward, a song originally from the musical “Porgy and Bess” about African American life. Next was Landen Wilson, who sang “Joshua Fit De Battle of Jericho,” one of the shortest and lightest songs of the night. The song is another classic African American spiritual about the battle of Jericho found in the Bible, though those who originally sang it were using the story as an allusion for their hope for freedom from the chains of slavery. Shakir Mackey was the final student performer, singing “Plenty Good Room” as arranged by Edward Boatner, who arranges many spirituals for various concerts.
Mr. David Gierlach next gave a demonstration of rag. He chose a song by Lous Chauvin called “Heliotrope Bouquet.” Chauvin himself was one of the finest players in St. Louis during the late 1800s and early 1900s, lauded for his ability to compose songs seemingly out of thin air. Only a few of his actual compositions survived and he never recorded. However, the song lived on through Mr. Gierlach who excited the crowd with his playing. Stella Hundley, another student, followed Gierlach, this time accompanied by Landen Wilson on the piano. She sang “Oh, What a Beautiful City!” a glorious spiritual also arranged by Edward Boatner. The final soloist of the night was Mr. Kieth Dean, a visitor who dazzled the crowd with his deep and powerful voice. Accompanied by Landen Wilson, they performed “Hold ON,” as arranged by Margaret Pleasant Douroux and finished to thunderous applause. The show ended as it started, with a powerful selection from the Joyful Noise choir, “Total Praise,” a gospel classic by Richard Smallwood. The entire night was wonderful and each selection was masterfully sung by talented musicians.