Belfast Community Gospel Choir
Waterfront Hall, Belfast
Saturday 1st June 2013
At one stage I feared the City Council structural engineers would be called in as the Belfast Community Gospel Choir almost raised the roof of the Waterfront Hall on Saturday night.
90 men and women and a rock band were surely belting it out, ‘Ain’t No Stoppin’ Us Now’, ‘Celebrate Good Times’, ‘Get this Party Started’, one after the other these enthusiastic singers brought their colourful message of happiness to a packed auditorium.
Over 1900 people clapping, swaying, one minute sitting, the next standing, all thoroughly enjoying the experience.
Nights like this don’t just happen, there’s always a guiding hand behind the organisation and the execution. In this case that inspirational person is Marie Lacey who learned gospel from her beloved mother and gained a love of soul at an early age. Marie Lacey describes herself as a woman of faith and her faith she says is the faith of love and never to be judgmental. She embraces everyone and certainly the choir she formed only four years ago reflects this, it’s multicultural with singers from all backgrounds, she and they have one thing in common, they sing to the glory of God and to inject joy into our lives.
When I talked to her before the concert, Marie told me there would be one extra special and serious moment when she would remember the day she was five and stood on a chair beside her mum and sang ‘Victory in Jesus‘ to a packed church.
“For that number I will duet this time with a surprise vocalist. Yes, it will be emotional because it’s for my Mum who passed away not long ago and it will be powerful.”
And it was, the guest was her extremely good looking son Jonny who had flown in from his DJ job in England. “You are standing in your granny’s shoes,” she told him. There were welcome thoughtful numbers especially ‘Nearer My God to Thee’ with violinist Clare Galway and soloist Julie McNeill, it was moving as was ‘How Great is Our God’. My personal favourite was the only true blues gospel, ‘Are You Ready For a Miracle’ with Louise Evans, also ‘Glory Glory’ with Mark Langley.
This is my only comment. Not enough soul music, I was crying out for unaccompanied black gospel or a Mahala Jackson influence. Like everyone else, however, I throughly enjoyed the evening and the warmth and love Marie Lacy exudes; it comes tumbling across the footlight and into the audience and we did indeed feel the joy.
Review by Anne Hailes
More details at www.bcgc.biz