Spiritual concert empowers

By Anna Marie D'Addarie - May 25, 2006

On Saturday, May 27, at 7 pm, the Federated Church in Edgartown will host a gospel and spiritual music concert featuring the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury choir. The concert will benefit Women Empowered, an Island support group.

Women Empowered is a volunteer organization that offers education in life skills. The service is free and helps all Islanders, including some men. Women Empowered teaches life skills such as money management. They do not offer psychological counseling because other Island organizations fill that need. Rather, the group offers organizational skills to help with job hunting, decision making, and solving everyday problems. Often people seek help when life has thrown them a curve, such as losing a job or a going through divorce. Women Empowered offers help and a new start by giving clients new skills.

The sound lifts us up

Linda Berg, choir director at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury, is excited about this weekend's concert. Over the years, she has added more and more gospel music to the choir's repertoire. She said that soon it became obvious that a separate gospel choir was emerging, featuring the singers who enjoy this style of music. Ms. Berg added other singers from the community who are not part of the church choir, but who also love singing gospel music.

The new gospel choir made its well-received debut at a concert on Feb. 4 at the First Congregational Church of West Tisbury. Ms. Berg hopes that the gospel choir will someday travel to Italy, to share their take on a unique American music form with European audiences.

Two members of the gospel choir are also volunteers for Women Empowered and suggested a concert would be a good way to raise money for the organization. The gospel choir jumped at the chance to perform again.

This Saturday's concert will include spirituals, traditional slave songs dating from before the Civil War, often used to communicate. "Steal Away" is an example of a spiritual as is "All My Trials Lord" which will be performed with a new arrangement. Ms. Berg explained that gospel is music from the post-Civil War period through today. The hour-long concert will feature both types of music.

Ms. Berg credits the "remarkable group of musicians" that makes up the gospel choir for bringing this music to life. Gospel music is a gift to us from the African American community and the gift is in good hands with Ms. Berg and her singers. Take in this uplifting concert and help empower Islanders.

Gospel music concert, Saturday, May 27, 7 pm, Federated Church, 24 S. Summer Street, Edgartown. Tickets $15. For more information, call 508-696-8880.