From humble beginnings in 1982, London Community Gospel Choir have gone on to become one of Europe’s leading Gospel brands.
With roots in Waltham Forest, the choir are performing a special homecoming show at St Mary's Music Hall this September.
We spoke to their founder Bazil Meade MBE about the choir's beginnings, and what it means to perform in the borough for the first time.
What inspired you to start a choir?
I arrived in the UK in 1961 to join my mother, who had made the same journey from Montserrat West Indies 5 years previously. I first lived in Lower Clapton, which is where I fell in love with Gospel music.
The youth pastor of my church first introduced me to Gospel, and the music quickly became a saviour for me - giving me purpose and a confidence to believe that through my found faith I could impact hearts of people.
There was this amazing energy amongst the youth in Pentecostal churches at the time, to establish this style of music as a popular genre available to the masses. We wanted to see people enjoying Gospel beyond our immediate community, on TV and on radio.
You’ve called this concert ‘Coming Home’. What is the choir’s connection to Waltham Forest?
The London Community Gospel Choir has ‘lived’ in Waltham Forest from the start. From my family home in Leyton in 1982, where we hosted our first admin office, to Highams Park, and finally our permanent home on Brookdale Road, Walthamstow. Here we continue our business of managing the choir and all of its activities, and rehearse as a choir in our studio.
This is the first time in London Community Gospel Choir’s history that they’ve performed in Waltham Forest. Why now?
It is great to be included in the borough’s celebrations as London Borough of Culture 2019. We have travelled extensively to other countries as a choir, so it’s a wonderful feeling to be part of what’s happening at “HOME”, where locals can see hear and celebrate talent that is on their doorstep.
What’s been your most memorable moment with London Community Gospel Choir?
I have had amazing experiences throughout my career in music, particularly gospel. One that is very special to me is performing with Luther Vandross at the Royal Albert Hall for his covers album.
Performing at Wembley Stadium for the very first AIDS Awareness concert alongside some amazing artists was a huge moment for us. Since that moment attitudes have changed hugely. It remains a very special memory to have been part of that, especially as a Christian organisation.
What’s next for London Community Gospel Choir?
London Community Gospel Choir continues to seek out different experiences with our gift of music. Working across other select genres has proved very exciting, such as our most recent collaborations with the Baroque Orchestra of Holland in Amsterdam and the Big Latin Band of Barcelona. Both events were very different and challenging for the choir, but resulted in an amazing experience for the audience and performers.
We have begun recording a new album which we hope to complete sometime in the foreseeable future.
We will also be returning to the Royal Albert Hall for our Gospel Christmas Celebration with the Royal Philharmonic Concert Orchestra and special guests on Saturday 14 December 2019.
London Community Gospel Choir: Coming Home takes place at St Mary’s Hall on Friday 6 September, presented by the Music Halls Project.
The Music Halls Project works with the local community to bring world-class arts programming into public spaces, including St Mary’s Church Walthamstow, and St John’s Church Leytonstone.