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The Rev. Raymond Wise has said he can take the most straight-laced singers and teach them to find their swaying groove in a black gospel tune.
Doubters can see for themselves when Wise, an ordained minister of music and veteran of three decades of gospel music, trains a mixed-bag ensemble of local singers to perform as part of a community choir in an upcoming concert fundraiser.
The Nov. 3 event at The Commons will generate money for the Love Chapel food pantry, which helps needy Bartholomew County families. The work of Wise and a 50-voice choir last year raised about $3,000..”
“Everyone loved it and loved him,” said Elizabeth Kestler, Love Chapel’s executive director and the event organizer.
From doubt to trust
Wise, currently a visiting faculty member at Indiana University, first came to Columbus in 2011 at the invitation of the Rev. Anne Marshall, pastor of Columbus’ Fairlawn Presbyterian Church and a former student of Wise’s at Ohio State University.
Marshall said before Wise’s initial visit that well-done black gospel can move both singers and listeners “from doubt to trust or from sadness to joy.”
Kestler is seeking more voices to add to this year’s choir, now at only about 25 singers. She said many performers last year enjoyed the idea of meeting people from various churches, although such affiliation is not necessary.
“That (ecumenical spirit) is really what we like to see,” Kestler said.
The man who has trained choirs for artists such as Diana Ross and Yolanda Adams also has trained groups from Germany to Canada to sing with funk.
Wise’s teaching covers everything from black gospel to piano playing to vocalists’ spirited movement.
It’s more than entertainment. He calls it “edu-tainment,” because he includes much of the history of the genre.
“People are realizing it’s a big part of American music history,” Wise said during a 2011 interview. “And they’re seeing that it needs to be preserved"
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