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Joyful Noise

Emmanuel Baptist Church Celebrates 100 Years

The Walls Group

There is something about Gospel Music that makes it call to you.

Maybe it’s the harmonies, the chord progressions, the rhythms, or the musicianship.

“It’s just the feeling, the way that sometimes it just moves your spirit,” said Vickye James of Emmanuel Baptist Church. “You can come into church feeling like blah (down), but when the praise team gets going, it’s uplifting, and sometimes it takes you to a place where only the Holy Spirit can. It puts you into a beautiful mindset.”

The Emmanuel Baptist Church, 53 W. 23rd St., Jamestown, will hold its first ever Gospel Explosion on Saturday, at the Reg Lenna Center for the Arts, 116 E. Third St., Jamestown. It will also mark EBC’s 100th anniversary celebration.

Kayla Walker, EBC concert coordinator echoed James’ words about Gospel Music. “It’s upbeat, up tempo. I like that feeling of the rhythm and the harmonies.”

God’s Purchase

At the celebration, two groups will perform, The Walls Group, a Stellar Award-Winning Contemporary Gospel group, and God’s Purchase, a 30-member Gospel Choir from Buffalo.

Walker is a member of God’s Purchase, and enjoys her role. “It’s so much fun. Last year, I was praying to be involved with a choir that had kids my age,” Walker said. She often wondered about the age differences in some choirs because there can be at times great disparities among the members. She said she didn’t want to be in a senior choir. She wanted to be in a choir with people her own age. “Once I got accepted into that (God’s Purchase) Choir, I was just really excited.”

A lot of musicians will admit that they learned about singing and music while attending church and performing gospel music. The appeal of gospel music is that it brings you home. It centers your compass. The musicians with a gospel background can play their respected instruments well and Gospel Music gave them a great foundation. The music that is taught in a church is something that may not be taught at a high school, college or university.

Walker said she just sings, but James disagreed.

“Kayla is very talented — very well-rounded. She can sing, dance, act, and is a photographer. Let’s talk about what she doesn’t do. It’s a shorter list,” James said with a laugh.

Walker had doubts when she first started in God’s Purchase.

“When I started, I said ‘I can’t do that.’ They are just so good, so how do I fit in with that? When I got there, my director told me I was good enough to sing in the choir. I guess I fit right in. I love it a lot — singing in the choir. It makes me get my emotion out and feel the spirit,” Walker said.

Walker said staying hydrated helps her voice. “I drink lots of water.” Singing since she was 2 or 3, Walker said the church always has been part of her life and she is happy to be part of the celebration. “I grew up in the church, so it’s just nice to see it (the celebration). It only happens one time and I am really glad that I get to experience a hundred years.”

James agreed. “It’s amazing. To see where we (EBC) came from in 1909 all the way up until now. It’s a great transformation. A lot of churches now are closing. We’re still standing. It’s great to be a part of it.”

Doors open at 5:30 p.m. and the show begins at 6:30 p.m. Tickets can be purchased at the Reg Lenna Box Office by going online to Reglenna.com/upcoming or by calling 484-7070. Funding is provided by the New York State Downtown Revitalization Initiative and the City of Jamestown Fund for Downtown Programming and is administrated through New York State office of Homes and Community Renewal.

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