I went to see House Gospel Choir on Saturday not knowing what to expect — all I had seen were some tantalising snippets online, and a list of impressive gigs and collaborations.
What I didn’t expect to see was one of the most uplifting live music experiences that I have encountered in recent years. House Gospel Choir lives up to its name: a thrilling combination of house music tracks sung in a gospel style. The choir is made up of 30-ish singers and plays with a small band consisting of keys player and MD Stevie Mac and drummer Bernie, as well as a guest DJ spot by DJ Fonti. As well as playing original tracks, HGC covered some classic house numbers, from Gypsy Woman by Crystal Waters and Get Up (Everybody) by Byron Stingily all the way through to the 2013 smash hit ‘Latch’ by Disclosure.
Across the board, the vocal performances were outstanding, and the band made an impressive ‘live House’ sound for a two-piece. The energy of the group was nothing less than infectious, and the entireity of Rich Mix was dancing by the third song – with some tracks turning into a full on rave, on stage and off, by the end. As a choir director myself, I found it incredibly empowering to witness the strength and charisma of choir leader ShezAr and the vibrancy of sound that she helped the group achieve.
However, what was most thrilling about the performance was its democratic nature – 30-ish performers of diverse ages, all performing with equal abandon, and completely different singers soloing on each track, with no sense of hierarchy, backing vocals or weak links. The familial bonds between the group, and the support from singer to singer was plain to see, and that sense of inclusion definitely fed through to the audience — ShezAr frequently instructed us to “cheer for yourselves!”. It was an ecstatic and ultimately moving live experience.