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Why We Sing

By Waris Banks | Posted 2/11/2004

Pastor Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir

Pastor Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir


Pastor Hezekiah Walker and the Love Fellowship Crusade Choir's arrival in Baltimore was quite disappointing. Though excitement for Walker and the Grammy-winning choir had been built up when a sudden cold snap forced them to cancel their original date two weeks ago, the performance was anticlimactic.

After several stirring performances by Natalie Wilson and the S.O.P Chorale and Tyrone Tribbett and Greater Anointing, Walker and company appeared as if they could've used a little bit of divine inspiration themselves. First, they looked simply exhausted. Second, Walker and his choir didn't get on stage until about quarter of 11. (Lord, have mercy . . . so much for Sunrise Service.) By the time they started performing the spirit that had overwhelmed and uplifted so many at the start of the evening faded. After all, folks had been praisin' and stompin' and dancin' and shoutin' since about 7:30 p.m. that evening, part of the 12th anniversary celebration of WCAO (Heaven 600 AM), a local gospel station.

Walker and crew sang just four songs. Well, the choir sang while Hezzie spoke and preached his way through songs à la Kirk Franklin, using the same church clichés and expressions that many of the faithful hear on Sunday ("Turn to your neighbor and say . . .").

The ensemble started off with "We Made It" from its Stellar Award-winning 2002 album Family Affair, Vol. 2: Live at Radio City Music Hall. The pastor and his winning choir did manage, however, to move people with his very rousing single "Lift Him Up," a contemporary piece that showcases the Love Fellowship Crusade's amazing voices.

Too bad we couldn't stay anointed in the spirit, because when the slow inspirational music started and the lights dimmed, we knew that this concert was about to come to an end. That decrescendo led into Walker and company's latest single, the very reverent and meditative "Grateful." What was really disappointing was that they didn't have time to perform any of the old songs from back in the day that made them a gospel music sensation, such as "Jesus Is My Help."

A sound check could've helped the acoustics a bit, too. Certainly, the Murphy Fine Arts Center is a blessing to Morgan State University, but sound technicians should know that when church folk get on stage and start singin' they're trying to make sure that heaven (and hell) hears them.

In short, the concert was exactly like a mediocre church service, not the kind that leaves you dancin' and shoutin' in the aisles. Wilson and the S.O.P. Chorale provided the most uplifting sounds, followed by the Good News spread by Tribbett and Greater Anointing. But by the time Pastor Walker got up to deliver the Word, it was too short, way too late, and all of us were ready to leave so that we could get up for church in the morning.

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