Community choirs come and go, but the Stellar Award nominated Billy Rivers and The Angelic Voices of Faith has been a mainstay in traditional gospel music. In fact the choir will celebrate its 35th anniversary with a reunion concert Sunday, Aug. 31st at Golden Gate Cathedral, 3240 James Rd.
The doors will open at 6 p.m. The choir also will host a banquet gala Friday, Aug. 29th. The location hasn’t been announced by press-time.
“We’re doing different things this year. This will be the first time that we’ll have a featured artist,” said Gwendolyn Turner, who co-founded the choir in 1977 with James Polk at Southside High School when the group was known as the Southside High School Gospel Choir. The name was changed to The Angelic Voices of Faith in 1979.
The choir’s fans, she said, will be privy to the music ministry of the Rev. Darius Brooks, a songwriter, music arranger, producer, music director and pastor of Grace Central Church in Chicago. He is the former music director of the Melvin Brunson & Thompson Community Singers, also in Chicago.
Brooks is known for such gospel renditions as “Lord I Believe,” “Over and Over,” and others.
“Before we started recording, we did all the music of Melvin Brunson & Thompson Community Singers,” Turner noted.
“We want to pay homage to the Thompson Community Singers…because they are a legendary choir that produced good gospel music,” added Minister Billy Rivers, who led the choir for more than a decade before the name was changed in 1989 to Billy Rivers and The Angelic Voices of Faith.
Turner also will launch that evening the Angelic Voices of Faith Foundation, with part of the proceeds going to the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County to benefit domestic abuse victims.
“What better way to start the Foundation kick-off than give to the Family Safety Center of Memphis and Shelby County, a charity already doing work to help victims of domestic abuse,” said Turner. “Hopefully we can help women and children who’ve gone through domestic violence situations.”
More than 100 past and present choir members are expected to participate, with 65 to 75 of them taking the choir stand to perform a compilation of old and new songs. Remember “He Knows,” “Blessed Jesus,” “Never” (He’ll Never Leave You), “Must Jesus Bear the Cross Alone,” and “Waymaker”?
“The Angelic Voices of Faith has always been known for traditional gospel music that can be utilized during Sunday morning worship. So we want to bring a deeper appreciation for choir music in the gospel music community,” Rivers said.
“We’re a little different than any other choir in the city,” said Turner. “People know we can sing, but the reunion concert will be 35 years of music.”
(For more information, or to purchase tickets to the concert and banquet gala, contact Stanley Smith at 901-832-4721. Concert tickets are $5. The banquet gala is $35).