Sunday, January 29, 2012

Gospel for Teens Choir

The last stop on the SketchCrawl was the Alfond Sports Complex where there was a free concert of the Gospel for Teens Choir. After a lunch of Pita and hummus, Terry joined me as I hunted for the sports complex. It wasn't where I thought it would be so we got lost. We asked students for directions but the campus paths kept twisting and winding. We realized we must be getting close when we saw tennis courts and then I spotted the Choir's van. We still had to ask directions from a tennis player to get to the building. It turns out we had been just a short walk from the destination, but we took a long twisting loop around the campus to find it. Terry decided to go shopping while I sketched.

Two small platforms were set up on a basketball court. The bleachers were crowded with people. I found a spot on the second level when I could stand and sketch. Young women were doing a dance and I thought I might be at the wrong place still. I walked around the building some more searching for a concert hall. There was just an exercise room and empty classes. I returned. Vi Higgenson, the executive director of Gospel for Teens took to the stage. She explained that she formed the Choir to pass Gospel music from one generation to the next. Teens in the choir experience an uplifting sense of porous and pride. They come from a wide range of neighborhoods, like Harlem, Brooklyn, and even Hackensack New Jersey which is close to where I grew up.

These kids blew the roof off! To say they sang with enthusiasm and spirit would be an understatement. The audience rose to their feet, Clapping to the beat and dancing in the isles. The aluminum bleaches swayed, the whole room in motion. The choral master danced the whole time with gymnastic enthusiasm. I had to dance as well as I sketched. There is such joy in unrestrained self expression and power in faith shouted to the rafters. Let your light shine!

Prints are available for each sketch for $250 and many originals can be purchased for $400. White museum grade shadow box frames are $100 more. You can e-mail Thor at

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