Last Sunday I sang with the African Methodist Episcoals.
I have a friend who is a retired music teacher and she was invited to teach them the ‘Hallelujah Chorus’ from the Messiah last fall. Not their usual genre. At one point my friend, who does not give up easily, just about did. But she didn’t. At the last minute people came out of the woodwork and joined that choir, including a former voice teacher of mine, and pulled it off. I visited Judy’s church not long ago and we visit like mad when we get the chance and she said she they were doing it again for a dedication service and they needed a little boost, would I be interested. I hemmed and hawed thinking it was not the musical experience I was longing for , but Judy goes right on making my plans for me and next thing you know I am looking for the AME church. My temperamental voice did several things to prove to Judy what I have been telling her for a long time, but when the time came to shine, it shined right where she needed it to! However, there was an appendage to my singing the Hallelujah chorus. Judy says “they are doing a couple of Gospel numbers that I am singing, not directing” and I wasn’t quite sure what to do with myself then. The woman sitting next to me said, “Stay right here.” Then this TALL black man with long braids gets up and says “This is what I wnat you to do” He does it, has us repeat, sits back down at the organ and takes off. Okay, so I feel my way through. There was another song another woman directed, AND there was music, it was a little more clear. I got to sing 2nd soprano for that one as no one else was and they were tickled to have it in there. So on Sunday afternoon I got there 3:30 ish in my white blouse and black skirt with the pink scarf, and the service started at 4. There I was in my 2nd black church service ever. For the most part , I loved it. I used to think I could never like the noise alnd the only noise I didn’t like was the yelling and screaming in the microphone, but that was just a couple people, one being the speaker. It was a small building with plaster walls. The choir ‘processed’ in. We started at the front singing and walked to the back and back to the front (side) and sat down, singing and swaying the whole way. when I do my exercises I am always on the left when they say right and I figure it doesn’t matter, but here it matters, so I was watching the back of the woman in front of me the whole time. I really didn’t know that was what we were going to do and as we left the room where we assembled Judy leaned over to me and said, ‘wing it.” I did! The man who directed the choir was very good and he pointed when to sway and which direction to go, much to my relief! I never got tired of the organ playing. I love the fact that if the choir is singing a song you like and know, you can sing along! They were all very warm to me. At the first rehearsal I went to Judy introduced me and one woman said “We welcome you with open arms!’ In the course of the service I found out that she was the first black woman to teach in the Lancaster public schools and the first to be a professor at Millersville University. I came home with lipstick on my cheek one night! It ended about three hours later. They had to wrap it up. Sunday night church started at 7:30!