Church choir releases debut album

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By Robert Felton
Contributing Reporter, Austin Weekly News

The Greater St. John Bible Church choir came out with its first-ever CD March 2. The album, titled Glorify, is the culmination of a spirited effort that began three years earlier.

In 2007, during a visit to a choir rehearsal, then church pianist Henry Johnson II found himself marveling at the remarkable progress of the choir’s sound in recent months. Johnson was so impressed by the group’s vocal abilities, he approached Director of Music Jarrod Dailey with the idea of going into the studio and recording an album.

“Henry had asked me what I felt about making an album with the choir,” said the 34-year-old, who has been the music director at Greater St. John for six years. “It was an idea that I was hesitant about pursuing because I wasn’t sure if we were ready.”

Nevertheless, Dailey put his apprehensions aside and used their collective connections to work on a recording. He recruited Gospel musicians Darius Brooks and Malcolm Williams to assist him and Johnson in writing the album’s 11 cuts.

“I have been a musician for 10 years and have had the opportunity to work with several great gospel artists,” said Dailey. “I met Brooks through [Pastor Ira] Acree while Brooks was still the music director at Operation PUSH. When I reached out to him and Malcolm about working on the album, they were quite giving of their time.”

Although the album was to be produced independently on Rev. Acree’s Music With Meaning Productions, it’s $30,000 budget, which includes the costs of studio time, distribution and dubs, was acquired through church donations or “sowing the seed.”

“The congregation gave offerings in order to make this possible,” said Lakesha Hudson, a choir member and administrative assistant to Dailey.

“Once we got the funding together, we were poised to enter the studio and begin recording the album.”

In early 2008, the 65-member choir, which consists of both the Greater St. John Bible Church Voices and Youth choirs from the church, began rehearsals, practicing two to three times a week.

“One of the differences about recording an album rather than performing for the church is the level of preparation beforehand,” said Dailey.

“During a Sunday service, the choir depends on its emotions to dictate which song to sing, but in the studio, everything is preplanned. All the notes had to be just right. The tenors, altos and sopranos had to be at their specific pitch, and they must learn to stay in step with the rhythm counts.”

Once prepared, the choir recorded at Gospel producer Percy Bady’s studio in Downtown Chicago.

Dailey says there were some moments when members of the choir had to wait up to 10 minutes for the other singers to perform their parts, which led to some occasional moments of impatience.

“Five to 10 minutes may not seem like a lot of time,” Dailey said.

“But when you are waiting to sing the part that you have been rehearsing for weeks and you are anxious to get started, it can feel like an eternity.”

The album was completed in December 2009, with Dailey and Johnson sharing producer credit and Rev. Acree serving as executive producer.

Among the cuts, “Heal, Bless Your Stress” offers listeners a serene take on the importance of faith in overcoming hardship, while the title track and “Thanks For Waiting” capture the feel of a church setting, encouraging patience in one’s spiritual journey.

Hudson, who also works as a residency coordinator at Rush University, says she has listened to the album several times at her job and is exceedingly proud of it.

“I love it; I am so proud of how it turned out,” said the 35-year-old who has been singing in the Greater St. John Bible Church choir for five years.

“I am so happy to be a part of it. Jarrod did a wonderful job of preparing the choir for making a recording despite his initial concerns.”

The album is available on CD at New Sound Gospel Records, located at 10723 S. Halsted, and Keys Too Christ books & music, located at 5449 W. Division St.

Click here to hear a track from the album.

To read more stories from our partners at the Austin Weekly News, pick up the next edition today.

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