Raven’s Cry Theatre will be rocking next weekend with a special kind of feel-good musical experience when Vancouver’s Marcus Mosely brings his gospel choir ensemble to the Sunshine Coast for two shows at the Sechelt Arts Festival (SAF).
“Gospel music is designed to reach into your heart, get you moving, and clapping your hands,” Mosely told Coast Reporter. “It’s a style of singing that lifts your spirits and gives you a sense of something greater than yourself.”
But Texas-born Mosely, 69, a Vancouver resident for more than 35 years and an inductee in the B.C. Entertainment Hall of Fame, is quick to add that his Oct. 16 and 17 concerts (plus an Oct. 16 morning workshop at St. Hilda’s Church) are not part of an evangelical crusade.
“Although I’m singing and teaching people gospel music, I’m not trying to convert anybody to any kind of particular religious point of view,” Mosely said. “I focus a lot on the aspect of gospel music was used during the (1960s) civil rights era. It’s a music designed to bring people together, to give them a sense of courage and faith and strength.”
Mosely’s 12-person ensemble is drawn from the 60-member Marcus Mosely Chorale, which he formed in 2011. Choral director Darlene Cooper and musical director Bill Sample and his trio will also be part of the SAF shows.
Joining Mosely and his choir will be singer Katherine Penfold, a past Coast resident who took part in SAF’s 2020 tribute concert to jazz legend Dave Brubeck. Festival co-producer Ross Powell said that Penfold was an obvious choice when it came to including some local talent in the Mosely shows. “Having had Katherine come and work on the Brubeck project last year, she was just top of mind because she has an amazing voice. I think she’ll do a bang-up job,” Powell said.
Like most choirs in B.C., Mosely’s chorale has been on extended hiatus due to concerns that singing, especially in groups, increases the risk of spreading COVID-19. But Mosely said the fully vaccinated ensemble has finally been able to get together since late August in preparation for the SAF shows.
“That first rehearsal was an emotional thing,” said Mosely. “For the first time in over a year we had been able to all be in one room and lift our voices. The harmonies are ringing and everybody’s just singing their hearts out and it just felt so good. Human beings are social beings, we need to be together. And music is one of the most powerful ways to experience that or express that connection.
“I think that whoever comes [to the SAF concerts], they’re in for a treat, because we’re all so eager to sing and it’s been so long. I think everybody’s going to give 150 per cent. It’s going to be wonderful.”
Concert tickets and information on the free Saturday, Oct. 16 workshop are available at secheltartsfestival.com.