Gospel singers bring music and activism to Luton

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Award-winning gospel choir The Spirituals are appearing in the town on the first leg of their UK tour, in partnership with Christian Aid.

The two are joining forces to stand with vulnerable communities and inspire audiences to take action against poverty and injustice.

Tickets are on sale now for the performances which will take place at churches and venues around the UK, from September to November.

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Venues lined up so far include COM Church, Luton, on Sunday, September 17; Union Chapel, Compton Terrace, London, on September 24; Holy Trinity, Cambridge, on Saturday, October 7; and Koko, the former theatre turned music venue, in Camden High Street, London, on Sunday, November 12.

The Spirituals warming up for their tour.The Spirituals warming up for their tour.
The Spirituals warming up for their tour.

The Spirituals were formed in October 2020, by music artist, Junior Garr and arranger/conductor Marsha Morrison, and began by reimagining spiritual anthems to commemorate black history, music and culture.

The London-based choir has since released three EPs and performed in iconic venues including Lambeth Palace, St Paul's Cathedral and Wembley Arena, as well as the 2022 Olympics. In June this year they were named Choir of the Year at the Premier Gospel Awards, held at Cadogan Hall, Chelsea.

They love to create new arrangements from powerful classics, such as Something Inside So Strong, with the aim of highlighting injustice and inspiring people to take action.

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Creative director Junior said the choir was formed following the harrowing events of 2020.

He explained: “My inspiration at that time was the global outrage at the murder of George Floyd, in Minneapolis. The world was turned upside down.

“Not only that but we were then in a pandemic – and those two things sparked a really long journey for me of processing the tragic events happening around the world.

“I really wanted to talk about it and say something but I didn’t want it to be another rant on social media. I actually wanted to do something and so I spoke to a friend saying, why don’t we reimagine some Negro spirituals and tell the story about black people and how we ended up in the West.

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“Music has so much power – the very force of nature that music is has the ability to transform all languages and cultures and if we put the message in the music then the world can get to hear it and experience it.”

Junior said the partnership with international development agency Christian Aid, which works with local partners in the most vulnerable communities around the globe, is a natural fit given their shared values and vision.

He added: “I’ve known about the work Christian Aid has done over the years and I believe we are aligned because of the fact we both have a passion for justice, freedom and equality in our world.

“I think our messages are incredibly aligned and to be able to come together from a musical perspective along with what Christian Aid is doing is amazing.

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“This tour is about The Spirituals giving our musical experiences back to the church first, before we launch out into the world. The idea is to gather our family – brothers, sisters, aunts, cousins – and share the message we believe God has given us and invite them to be a part of it.

“I think we have such a unique opportunity to impact people, to be a part of stories around the world that speak of people finding freedom and experiencing liberation. We want to be a part of crafting a sound in the world that impacts in a positive way.”

Christian Aid’s British Church Relations Manager Dr Lisa Adjei said the tour was an exciting opportunity.

She added: “Christian Aid is delighted to be partnering with The Spirituals.

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“Music has a powerful way of bringing people together and we want to gather people across the country, fill rooms with songs of justice and hope as well as raising vital funds for transformational projects to help communities on the frontlines of injustice.”

More dates will be announced soon and anyone who would like to book a ticket or host The Spirituals at their church or community venue, can email [email protected].

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