The choir in rehearsal. Photo by Susan Safford
"Just a group of people who love to sing gospel" - the choir in rehearsal. Photo by Susan Safford

Singin' the gospel

By Pat Waring - February 9, 2006

The First Congregational Church of West Tisbury looks like a pretty prim place. But this Saturday night the church will be rocking with a rousing beat as the choir presents a gospel concert in honor of Black History Month.

Choir director Linda Berg of Vineyard Haven, well-known as a singer, accompanist, and teacher, will lead the choir in a wide array of gospel songs from upbeat to meditative. The 12-voice choir, its members ranging in age from teens to 80s, will perform traditional to less familiar modern selections. Highlights include such favorites as "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Soon and Very Soon," "Balm in Gilead," "Every Time I Feel the Spirit," "Operator (get me Jesus on the line)," and much more. Another composition, "Deep River," is said to have been written by a lyricist living in the Campground about a stream in Oak Bluffs.

Niki Patton, a choir member who has been on leave, will join in the performance and offer guitar accompaniment to several numbers.

"We're just a group of people who love to sing gospel, and we don't get a chance to sing songs from this genre every Sunday," said choir member Betsy Gately of West Tisbury.

Audience members can meet the singers and enjoy refreshments at a reception in the parish hall following the concert.

Gospel Concert, Saturday, Feb. 4, 8 pm, First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, State Rd. Free; free will offering will support music at the church.