Tribute to Willie Mae Ford Smith (1904 – 1994)

February 28th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir
Based in St. Louis, Missouri she was one of the early associates of Thomas A. Dorsey and an innovator in gospel style, introducing the “song and sermonette” style that other singers, such as Shirley Caesar and Edna Gallmon Cooke made popular. She married in 1929 and, shortly after that, began traveling in musical revivals. Dorsey heard her in 1931 and asked to help him found the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses, his organization devoted to spreading gospel music by training singers, choirs and composers. Smith became the principal singing teacher for the NCGCC as head of its Soloists’ Bureau in 1936. Among her students were Brother Joe May, who gave her the affectionate name “Mother”. Teaming with Roberta Martin, Smith demonstrated how to make even familiar hymns such as “Jesus Loves Me” into deeper personal statements by slurs, note bending and other personalized adornments. Smith was also a major figure within the Baptist Church as the Director of its Education Department of the National Baptist Convention before she became a member of a Pentecostal denomination. She considered herself a preacher and imbued her singing and sermonettes with an evangelical fervor. She was noted for her finesse, control and subtlety, but could also, like her protégé Brother Joe May, belt out hymns.

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Gospel Choir featured in Super Bowel AD

February 13th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir
super bowel gospel choir

The ad featured scenes of Detroit played to the tune of Eminem’s Oscar-winning hit, “Lose Yourself.” Eminem appears in the ad driving a Chrysler 200. He gets out at the Fox Theatre and steps inside where a gospel choir is singing.

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History – Henrietta Lacks

February 8th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir

August 18, 1920 – October 4, 1951

Henrietta Lacks

Her name was Henrietta Lacks but scientists know her as HeLa. She was a poor Southern tobacco farmer who worked the same land as her slave ancestors yet her cells-taken without her knowledge-became one of the most important tools in medicine. The first “immortal” human cells grown in culture they are still alive today though she has been dead for more than sixty years.

HeLa cells were vital for developing the polio vaccine; uncovered secrets of cancer viruses and the atom bomb”s effects; helped lead to important advances like in vitro fertilization cloning and gene mapping; and have been bought and sold by the billions. Yet Henrietta Lacks remains virtually unknown buried in an unmarked grave.

Her story and that of her family are told in a book by Rebecca Skloot called “The Immortal Life Of Henrietta Lacks


NY Times Bestsellers – Non-Fiction

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MT. Zion Baptist Church Choir

February 7th, 2011 by Black Gospel Choir

Whites Creek, TN

Mount Zion Baptist Church is one of the oldest black churches organized in Nashville, TN. The church was organized in 1866; just three years after President Lincoln had issued the Emancipation Proclamation. Throughout its rich history, Mount Zion was led by 14 dynamic pastors and currently Bishop Walker serves as Bishop of Senior Pastors International for the Full Gospel Baptist Church Fellowship under the leadership of International Presiding Bishop Paul S. Morton, Sr.

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