Marcus Moseby: Workshop & concerts emphasize hope, joy, and social justice roots of Gospel

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BC Entertainment Hall of Fame inductee Marcus Moseby brings gospel’s message of hope, joy, and social justice to North Island singing workshops and concerts in April. Photo by David Gifford.

By Trish Weatherall

Published in the North Island Eagle newspaper March 16, 2018

North Islanders will have the opportunity to be inspired by gospel music this April, with two concerts and a singing workshop.  

Music is in the Air, the 3-day chorale singing workshopat Port McNeill’s St. Gualbert (A-Frame) Church April 6-8, includes the history of gospel music, vocal techniques, foundations of rhythm and groove, improvisational singing and harmonies, how singing empowers us, and how to find your voice and communicate from your core to establish a heart connection with your audience. 

“Come and find your inner gospel singer,” says award-winning gospel singer Marcus Mosely, part of the musical group The Sojourners, leader of The Marcus Mosely Chorale, a solo artist, and actor, who was inducted into the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2016, nominated for a Juno, and received two Western Canadian Music awards. “The music comes out of a Christian context, but I encourage people to come with their own spirituality, and find the universal commonalities of music, spirit, humanity, and compassion.”

Hosted and organized by local Wild Heart Music, the workshop is led by the creative team behind Vancouver’s 70-member Marcus Mosely Chorale, including Mosely (artistic director), Bill Sample (musical director) and Darlene Ketchum (choral director). Sample, inducted in the BC Entertainment Hall of Fame in 2010, is a performer, musical director and teacher, who has worked with Bryan Adams, Celine Dion, Peter Cetera and Kenny Loggins as Music Director for David Foster. Ketchum is a singer, composer, arranger, conductor and music educator with award nominations for three of her songs.

Mosely says gospel music – which is rooted in field songs of oppressed African-Americans and evolved with influences of jazz, pop and R&B – is an empowering force for overcoming adversity and oppression.

“Gospel is very social-justice oriented, promoting equal rights and tolerance. Music like ‘We Shall Overcome’, ‘Wade in the Water’, and ‘I Shall Not Be moved’, gave African-Americans inspiration to overcome opposition. A message of hope and power and encouragement. It’s about joy in the face of trial and adversity. And that you can be part of something greater than yourself.”

The Texas-born African-American grew up in the Bay area of San Jose while segregation and Jim Crow laws still ruled in America. A child of the 60s, Mosely marched for peace and civil rights, and more recently has participated in the Vancouver Women’s March and Kinder Morgan pipeline protest march.

Mosely sees parallels between the African-American experience and the Indigenous experience in Canada, and he welcomes and honours Indigenous culture. “We have much to learn from Indigenous peoples in spirituality and voice,” he said. “The workshop will encourage positive self-concept as well asa positive image of others and build connections. We can make a difference and music is a powerful tool to do that and to draw people together.”

Mosely invites anyone with an interest in singing to join the workshop or attend a concert.

“Religious or not, male or female, it’s inclusive and a lot of fun.  It’s very much about process, not perfection. The first night is registration, meet and greet, and overview, Saturday is a full-day workshop, 10 a.m. to 3 p.m., and Sunday is a rehearsal and public concert. You will come away empowered and positive – you’ll be glad you did it.”

The Gatehouse Theatre will host the public concert on Sunday, April 8 at 7 p.m. Admission, recommended at $10, is by donation.

“It’s an evening for people to be inspired, to open your heart, spirit and eyes,” said Mosely. “Regardless of spiritual or religious background, we do have more in common than we think. You can hear the music wherever you are.”

To register for the workshop, or to inquire about a bursary, please contact Deborah Murray at 250-956-3297. Murray said 10 people are coming from down island for the workshop and are seeking billets for accommodations. Companies and individuals are also invited to provide sponsorship.

“Don’t underestimate the amount of joy and fun it is to be in a choir, and what a great opportunity this is,” said Murray. “No need to read music. No stress, just fun. Marcus gives so much to his music you always walk away filled up with singing to carry you through until next year.”

The North Island Concert Society is also hosting a concert on Saturday, April 14th at 7 p.m. Mosely, Will Sanders, and Khari McClelland as The Soujourners, will perform with Canadian Blues icon Jim Byrnes at the Port Hardy Civic Centre. Tickets ($30 for adults, $10 for students) are available through at niconcertsociety@gmail.com or 250-902-7827.