St. Christopher's Episcopal Church


Beverly A. Tasy

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                      Gospel Fest 2017: Let Us Sing                          Praises to Our God


      It is with great pleasure that I am announcing to the greater St. Christopher’s family and our friends and neighbors that we are holding a Gospel Fest on Saturday, October 14, 2017. This fest will consist of a gospel music workshop from 9:00a until about 4:00p (or a bit earlier) and a gospel concert beginning at 7:00p. We are contacting local churches and asking that their choir members (and anyone else who would be interested) attend the workshop and sing for the concert that evening. The cost to attend the workshop is $20.00 and will cover music, coffee and donuts, etc., and lunch.  Tickets for the concert will cost $20.00.

      Conducting the workshop are 2 old friends of mine and an exciting new friend. I met Barbara Johnson Tucker of Houston, Texas, about 20 years ago. She has conducted several gospel fests for me at churches in Michigan and Ohio. She is a member of Good Hope Missionary Baptist Church in Houston. As a child, she sang with the Johnson Family (her mother and siblings) throughout the Gulf Coast. Barbara is a graduate of Texas Southern University where she has been a voice consultant. Early in her adult career she was a national anthem soloist for both the Houston Oilers and Rockets. Ms. Tucker was part of the cast of The Great White Hope with James Earl Jones on Broadway. She has sung at Carnegie Hall in New York City and the Kennedy Center in Washington, DC. She was the first to record Glenn Burleigh’s Order My Steps. She has performed for Presidents Clinton and Bush. Currently she sings with her group A Chosen Few. As a soloist and with her group, Barbara Tucker’s personality, musical authority, spirituality, and voice have enchanted choirs and audiences throughout the USA, Europe, and the Holy Land. It is without a doubt a treat to experience Barbara Johnson Tucker.

     I like to call Phillip Hall my little brother. He is associate music director at Jones Memorial United Methodist Church in Houston. He grew up outside New York City and began playing piano at the age of 4. He is a graduate of Rice University and has remained based in Houston where he has taught music in the Houston public schools and is now music director and lead accompanist for Music Doing Good in Schools there. He has performed all over the USA, in Japan, and in South Africa as accompanist for choirs, choir workshops, and jazz productions (especially Ain’t Misbehavin’ ). Mr. Hall was chosen to be the keyboardist for Aretha Franklin when she performed in Houston in 2002. He, too, has played for presidents. Phillip has worked with Barbara Tucker for many, many years and is part of A Chosen Few. Phillip Hall’s prodigious skills, his love of music, and winning personality will make this gospel fest an event to remember.

     Hedreich Nichols, the daughter of noted gospel vocalist and composer Brenda Waters, has over 30 years’ experience as a vocalist, composer, teacher of music, and trainer of vocalists, choirs, and choir directors in Switzerland and Texas (and has been a Grammy nominee). Continuing a strong and rich heritage of faith, Hedreich is currently director of contemporary music at her church in Arlington, Texas. She is a candidate for a Masters Degree in Education at Texas A&M University. Her past and current students have benefitted greatly from her abilities and love of music. So are we about to do the same.

     So – please save the date of October 14 and plan to sing with us or attend the concert that evening. That day and evening will be a rich banquet of uplifting spirituality and music. Don’t miss it! Let us sing praises to our God!   

                                     Music to My Ears

     Few people would argue with the view that there is a great deal – too much, really – that drives us apart these days. There has never been a time when everyone agreed with each other on everything, or even a few things. But that didn’t stop us from getting along with each other. We could agree to disagree and then go out and do things together. We were not each other’s enemy. However, today, that kind of camaraderie is harder and harder to find. What can we do to get back to respecting and, yes, loving each other?

     As children of God, it is time for me and all of us to turn to our Father and seek His guidance in returning to the love that Jesus and so many of His followers have displayed over the centuries. God loves us all despite our very different ways of conducting our lives. We can and must live that same love.

     So, how do we go about turning to God and His guidance, His love? How do we go about turning to anyone? We start by talking with them. What is talking with God? Praying. There are more ways to pray than we can count. I would like to focus on just one way to pray: music - in particular, singing.

     Singing is universal. Pretty much everyone sings. Maybe we don’t sing in public – but we sing.  We sing in the shower; we sing while cooking, cleaning, along with the radio, ipod, etc. Singing makes us feel good. Singing makes listeners feel good.

     People have been singing about God and to God for thousands of years. Our songs have made us feel better and have made us better people. Songs have touched us in ways that mere words don’t quite reach. They have connected us with God and each other. And when we are connected with each other under God we see each other more clearly – as brothers and sisters (without the sibling rivalry).

     We all have our favorite singers and songs, sacred and secular. Each can move us. I would like to introduce to our community three people whose spirituality, talent, love, presence, whose song, have moved me deeply. On October 14, Barbara Johnson Tucker, Phillip Hall, and Hedreich Nichols from across the line in Texas, will be with us at St. Christopher’s Episcopal Church. They will conduct a gospel music workshop from 9:00a until about 4:00p. We are asking that anyone who wants to sing praises to our God under the direction of some of the best that music has to offer to please join us that day. Then, at 7:00p that evening, those who sang in the workshop will lift up their voices for us to God in a concert of holy and thrilling song. If you are interested in singing or listening, please contact us at St. Christopher’s (393-3237) for more information.

     God loves us – all of us. He wants us to love each other. It hurts us and Him when we don’t love (#the cross). So, let us sing praises to God together. We’ll be talking to God and each other as His loving children.