On the Today show earlier this week I saw a segment on Voices of Destiny, a choir from a church in Compton, California. Music is used in a powerful way so inner-city young people learn that peace and hope is attainable.
Last week I attended the Maine Pro-Musica performance at Camden Hills Regional High School along with 800 others. The orchestra, chorus, bell choir, and dancers all contributed to a delightful afternoon. The audience was on their feet to show their appreciation.
In both of these cases, even though they are worlds apart in so many ways, it was the music that brought people together. East coast, west coast, urban, rural, African-Americans, white, predominantly older and comfortable economically, predominantly younger and limited economically, living safely, often fearing for their lives.
Mainers are familiar with the stories of community musical performances so in this blog post I will tell you only about the award winning Compton-based church choir, Voices of Destiny.
Michael J.T. Fisher is the choir’s 31-year-old leader and the pastor of the Greater Zion Church in Compton which he took over from his father in 2005. The community is full of violence and gangs so Fisher’s goal was to help young people realize that it doesn’t have to be that way and that they could be a role model to change patterns that exist. Through the formation of a choir that is a combination of choreography and song blended with hip-hop and modern music with traditional worship they are accomplishing the goal. They now have about 60 members.
In November they traveled to Washington to compete in the “How Sweet the Sound” where they were named “Bet Church Choir in America”. Their performance brought the 12,000 audience members to their feet. It is difficult not to want to move when you hear them.The $42,000 prize money is in part being used to build a youth center. The members are reaching out to schools, hospitals and community projects.
Many of the choirs members are former gang members, drug addicts, ex-cons, single mothers, and from broken families. They are learning how to use their energy for something positive and good and that hard work can help them achieve what is right in the world.
You can see the group perform, YouTube below, and read more about them by clicking here.