I’m a huge fan of gospel music. It is one of my very favorite things in life. Fred Hammond, Kirk Franklin, Hezekiah Walker…I absolutely love it. Since I will never be able to be in an all black choir, seeing as, sadly, I am white (I have ALWAYS wished I was black!)…I will have to settle for the next best thing: An excellent mixed choir with a gospel flavor. Every Sunday morning, you’ll find me on the B3 Organ bench, usually singing alto…praising my Jesus with our church choir.
It’s been fifteen years now that I have had the privilege to be part of this group. I have a ton of good memories and every Sunday morning, they fill me with joy as they worship with everything they’ve got. I’ve had the unbelievable good fortune to sing with a number of people who are considered to be hot stuff. Fun? Yes! Tours, exciting? Yes! I love it all and I feel extremely blessed.
But my Sunday morning gig is my favorite place to be. No contest.
We’ve been many and we’ve been few. We’ve been good, great, and not so much. We’ve been through a lot and are still singing. The group that is with us now ROCKS. It’s not the biggest we’ve been, by far, but Ssh, it’s my favorite group. The SOUND is great and the spirit is even better. I would do anything for these kids.
We used to do a big summer tour every year…some of them had never been out of the state of Minnesota and it was always fun to see them explore new places. It’s challenging to take a large group of teenagers anywhere, much less across the country without their parents, but they always made us proud. I wouldn’t trade those times for anything.
Well, except maybe the one where I was 7 months pregnant with Greyley and we went to St. Louis in the hottest part of summer. The night before we went home, she shifted. I was laughing really hard (Stuart!!!) and something went terribly wrong…namely, Greyley moved until she was sitting on my bladder. (Until I went into premature labor later that week.) On the bus ride home the next day, I had to go to the bathroom no less than thirty times and had to climb over the kids sleeping in the floor of the bus. There was very minimal teasing~ I was THAT miserable. I would skip that moment, but other than that one…
Some highlights of ABCYC:
We have two recordings on CD.
We did a live DVD recording at The Fitzgerald in St. Paul where Garrison Keillor performs every week. It’s a beautiful auditorium.
A few of the artists who joined us that evening and did solos were Ashleigh Still, Kevin Herrin, Billy Steele, Sara Groves, Cynthia Johnson, Joey I.L.O., and Michael Olson. Oh yeah, I might have done a solo myself.
We sang at Brooklyn Tabernacle, a huge honor…
We sang at Hezekiah Walker’s church, also a huge honor…and it was a BLAST to hear his choir sing in person. Those sopranos sing higher than any choir I know.
Every tour seems to have a food theme. One year was lasagna, one year was BBQ, one year was pizza…practically EVERY NIGHT for 10 days straight…not sure why that happens…but the kids were under strict obligation to not laugh outright in Texas when the people hosting said, “Have y’all ever had BBQ brisket?” There was no need for the hosts to know we’d already had it seven times at the previous churches.
The hygiene talk. This one always fell on me to have the “major convo” with the girls. It goes something like this:
When we’re on tour, we’re going to be in close proximity with each other and it is important that we all SHOWER. Deodorant is also very important. Girls, please make sure you bring your deodorant and USE it. I also need to tell you about sports bras…it would be good to invest in one for when we get to swayin’…
Inevitably, someone wouldn’t be paying attention to my talk, so when one would come out of the shower, but still smelled, I would have to say…“Get back in that shower and this time, use SOAP. And don’t forget to use SHAMPOO!!!” I don’t know if you know this or not, but spraying perfume over a smelly teenager just smells like a smelly teenager with a hint of vanilla.
Or, “Do I need to take you shopping for a bra?”
Or, “Do you need a safety pin?”
The Choir Tour is NOT a Date Talk…you can figure that one out. The kids always liked to pull this line out on me and Nate if we were caught kissing…
And the Leave Everything As You Find It talk…that goes for throw pillows, a made up bed, all bathroom paraphernalia…
One tour to L.A., Greyley was around 3, I think…all of our luggage was stolen. (Mine, Nate’s, & Greyley’s) I happened to be pregnant, too, just enough to be showing. Can you spell H-A-S-S-L-E? We didn’t even have underwear. We made a Wal-mart run and I borrowed whatever I could from the girls. We lost our video camera…ouch. Greyley never got over losing her favorite heart swimsuit. I never got over losing my brand new red luggage…
Ahhh, good times…good times…way too many stories for one day.
Nate started the choir in ’91 and tried a variety of styles. When they began doing gospel music, the choir came alive and this is still the style we do the most. The last few years, our focus has been the worship service…not so many concerts, athough we still do a few big ones each year. Now we do a fun combination of praise & worship songs, still with that gospel sound.
One of the kids in the choir, Steve Erickson, began directing because Nate was either playing guitar or keyboards and he is still the choir director today. It is so fun to see a tall, lanky white boy, now a man, directing gospel music.
There have been a handful of us who have written songs for the choir. It began quite a few years ago that the choir members and leaders began getting songs for the choir and it took things to a whole new level.
The best part about a youth choir is also the worst thing. There is nothing like watching a twelve year old begin to find their voice. It’s usually a slow progression. They come in the choir very timid and afraid and before you know it, their mouths are wide open and tears are streaming down their faces as they worship. A child’s faith is a beautiful thing.
The bad part is that in a youth choir, there is a lot of transition as kids grow up and either move on or go a different way. We have welcomed and nurtured more kids than I can count. Some stay and many go. It’s hard, but also very rewarding.
We did a reunion concert last year and the stage filled with close to 100 people. Kids who had grown up in the youth choir were now adults with children of their own. They joined the ones who are currently in the choir, as we sang all our old favorites. It was an incredible night.
The road is calling us again. We’re going to go back on the road. I think everyone is ready. A new CD is also on the horizon~ no set dates, but this is a group that needs to be captured…so help us pray that it will be a possibility in the near future.
Have ears? Will travel. Spread the word. Better yet? Invite us to your area. I promise you it will be fun and life changing. I’m not even exaggerating when I say that.
I like to think the choir made a difference in every member’s life. In lots of cases, we’ll never know. But they’ve made a difference in mine. And I’m grateful.
***Winner of the giveaway is Thad! Contact me with your address information and a CD will be sent your way. ***