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“Shake the Foundation! Shake the Foundation!”

March 13, 2009

Excellence in the Community Concerts Puts on Another Fantastic Show with The Calvary Baptist Choir.

“Shake the foundation!  Shake the Foundation!”  These were the spoken words of Reverend France A. Davis, as the Calvary Baptist Church Choir thunders in with the opening notes of the song of the same name. Three seats to my right I hear a woman’s voice snap a joyful “Amen!” out into the air and space of the Grand Theatre. It feels as though the choir catch’s and embraces the energy of that amen and multiplies it by each member of the choir and sends it out to the rest of us with their exuberant voices, clapping hands, swaying bodies and smiles. And with the sight of their genuine smiles it naturally gives me the permission to smile. And I do, a big tooth filled smile. My left foot begins tapping to the beat of the music and my hands want to clap, at first I resist, but a short minute later it’s too much for me and I give in. 

It felt good to give in because what makes most shows or events, or moments in life unforgettable is the degree we become self-forgetful. Feeling those voices and the message they were singing about vibrating in my chest, suddenly I forgot about my low paying job, getting my car fixed, the extra weight around my waist and the beans and salad I left in the fridge.

Instead I forget my problems and begin to share an evening in a theater filled with strangers who, maybe don’t share the same political ideas as I, or the same religious views and pews, or taste in food, or whatever seems to be the current issue dividing some of us. But for one evening we all agreed to attend the monthly Excellence In The Community Concert Series at the Grand Theatre.  For that evening we all agreed on one thing at the same time; that the talent of the local community was worth our time and effort and, to say the least, The Calvary Baptist Church Choir rewarded us handsomely for that agreement.
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The Calvary Baptist Church Choir gave a performance that was flawless. Not because there weren’t any misplaced notes or keys, or not because the singer’s voices were always on pitch. It was flawless because every song they played and sang they meant.  They sang with a unanabashed passion. Before each song the charismatic Reverend France A. Davis would stand and explain a little about the song, talk about how the song related to our own lives, and our own struggles and hopes. He quoted scriptures and likened it to our days. He mentioned the election of President Barack Obama and how the reverend himself was there when Reverend Martin Luther King Jr. gave his holy I Have A Dream speech, and how today’s President is a dream fulfilled for many people. The Reverend’s spoken word added depth and inspiration to the music.

One of the major themes of the Excellence in The Community Concert series is to expose and give a platform to the world class talent within the wasatch valley. The musicianship of the Choir and the band were just that, world class! The roots of rock and roll are traced back to gospel music. And I’ve been to my fair share of rock concerts and I could see that most rock shows are just weak imitations of their roots. From the choir singing in unison “Didn’t My Lord Deliver Daniel” to the leading solo singer of “Free at Last”, there was a proof of disciplined practice and dedication to the art they were sharing with us. The young man on the piano played with a professionalism and soul beyond his years, while opposite of him, a mature woman played with a youthful zeal that betrayed her outward calm demeanor. Music Director Miki Hesleph and Choir President Patricia Otiede really have done a fantastic job. I wish I had more space to acknowledge each and every one of the choir singers and members of the band, because they all deserve credit. They are a treat, an experience all of us should enjoy.

It was easy to forget yourself that night, forget your worries and petty issues because we were watching, sharing and participating with a group of individuals who in their performances were forgetting themselves. Like all of us, I’m sure their lives are far from perfect, and, like us, have many struggles also. But they put those things aside and shared with us with us how they have found happiness in their own lives, and they were thankful enough to share that with us through song. Hoping it would build up our own souls and our own reservoirs of strength for our dark days. Letting us know that our dark days won’t last forever and many who came before us have walked similar paths. And if we follow those examples of faith we shall find a promised land also. On the final song, which was “Oh Happy Day”, we, the audience were told by the Choir, “We didn’t come here to put on a show, we came here to praise Jesus.” A beautiful jolt of electricity ran up my spine and a joyful calmness came over me. This was not a show for these performers. This was a huge part of their lives. The part everything else in their lives revolves around. They are dedicated to something much bigger than themselves. And even if everyone in the theatre did not agree with their exact beliefs, t was liberating to see fellow brothers and sisters, fellow human beings, so excited and free and unabashedly dedicated to their beliefs. Personally it helped me to remember what I hold so dear about my own beliefs, to be thankful for my own beliefs, and to be joyous and exuberant in my own beliefs.

I left the theatre that night with a renewed sense of community, faith and thankfulness… and a desire to sing and dance about Jesus all the way home.

article by:  James Skipps

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