Thursday, November 11, 2010

Lift up every voice at this killer gospel show on Friday

By Joe Anuta

What do cocaine-snorting rockers and psalm-singing churchgoers have in common?

The link is gospel music — which inspired The Rolling Stones and legions of Christians, and will now be front and center at a tribute concert in Bedford-Stuyvesant on Nov. 12, organized by the Brooklyn Arts Council.

Listeners can catch the sounds of energetic Haitian gospel, funky urban gospel, and T-N-T, a group that infuses rap music into its performance. But it’s all gospel.

“Generations have developed their own style from the traditional roots,” said spokeswoman Elecktra Gray. “And many of these styles have flourished in Brooklyn.”

Whatever the style, gospel music has a special place in Brooklyn, where it thrived in Bedford-Stuyvesant, beginning in the 1940s. But Gray believes interest in the genre is growing outside of its traditional havens.

“It seems like there’s been more interest, especially in the independent music community,” she said, citing the fact that Jeff Tweedy, of the alt-rock stalwarts Wilco, has worked with gospel legend Mavis Staples.

But you don’t have to be an indie star to get hooked, and you don’t have to be a Christian, either — the event is secular.

“There’s no church service,” Gray said. “It’s about focusing on the music and shining a light on the genre.”

And the council hopes the concert will expose the heavenly hymns to listeners outside of the black community.

“The Gospel Borough” at Concord Baptist Church of Christ [833 Marcy Ave. between Putnam Avenue and Madison Street in Bedford-Stuyvesant (718) 622-1818]. Nov. 12 at 7:30 pm. Free. For info, visit


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