Sunday, February 12, 2006

Took Me To Church

Inspiration - Diamonds (from Sierra Leone) Kanye West "My father been said I need Jesus/So he took me to church and let the water wash over my ceaser/The preacher said we need leaders/Right then my body got still like a paraplegic"

What I'm Listening To - "Aquemini" - Outkast

Question(s) I Asked Myself Today - "Did that dude just say 'Ladies Love Cool Jesus'?" I'll explain in the post

I got invited to a program at a coworker's church tonight. She knows that I generally avoid the whole church thing, not because I have anything against organized religion, but because I have issues with the society within the society that exists in many Black churches. She insisted that everything at her church was on the level and has been trying to get me to attend for awhile now. After my initial resistance, I reluctantly accepted the invitation and I'm glad I did. I had an experience that I just had to write about. My intent with this post is not to denigrate people who attend church regularly; I respect everyone's beliefs and would never intentionally disrespect their piety. I, however, subscribe to a more spiritual regimen and cringe at the multiple offering plates and what I see as judging and hypocrisy that I've seen at other churches. This is not to say that all churches are this way, but the ones I've been to mostly have this same issue. Enough with the disclaimers, lets move on to the event.

I was in the dark about what I would experience this evening. I even considered coming up with a self serving excuse for not attending. But out of respect for my coworker, I showed up. The first thing I noticed was the varying styles of dress. There didn't seem to be any dress code as I observed young people in jeans and boots and others in more traditional church garb. I was impressed that I didn't see any disapproving looks, head shaking or malicious whispering. The second thing I noticed was the general good will that the parishioners showed each other. So far, so good. Thirdly, I noticed that there were a good number of attractive sistas in attendance. I didn't come for that reason, but it was a plus in my book.

We found our seats amongst the throngs of attendees and I glanced over the program. It had a Valentine's Day theme, replete with red and white and heartshaped candies on the table. My initial perception was that I had been roped into some kind of Christian singles event. Nothing against Christian singles, but I am not in the place where I am looking for a God fearing church woman. I still wanna listen to my hip hop and occasionally have a drink or some premarital relations. My own prejudices were working against me until the show got underway. As the curtain raised, it became clear that this was not that type of party. In actuality, it was a musical celebration of love. Love for Jesus and love for each other. I relaxed and determined myself that I would keep an open mind for the rest of the evening.

The music that was performed was not traditional gospel. I realized this as the opening act came out. The praise team perfectly channeled New Edition and tore up the stage with "If It Isn't Love", complete with the choreography from the video. The live band (more on them later) was flawless and the singing was on point. I almost didn't notice that they changed some of the lyrics to make it more church appropriate. Next up were three sisters singing SWV's "I'm So Into You", transforming it into an ode to Jesus. Immediately following them was a superbly talented singer who blew me away with her version of Alicia Keys "If I Ain't Got You." She did a phenomenal matching Alicia's pitch and range. I did find it funny how she just replaced the word baby with the word Jesus:
Some people want it all/But I don't want nothing at all/If it ain't you Jesus/If I ain't got you Jesus/Some people want diamond rings/Some just want everything/But everything means nothing/If I ain't got you Jesus
I laughed to myself because of the change in diction, but I was right there with the rest of the audience in showing my appreciation with a standing ovation. I broke out my pen and paper and jotted down the song list. All of these songs were popular urban hits molded to fit the theme of the evening. Some of the other highlights are as follows:

Nite and Day - Al B. Sure
Same Old Love/Giving You the Best I Got- Anita Baker
Endless Love - Diana Ross and Lionel Richie
Make it Last Forever- Keith Sweat
With You - Tony Terry
We've Only Just Begun - The Carpenters
Ready or Not - After 7

I had to dedicate an entire paragraph to the funniest thing on stage this evening. A gospel version of L.L.'s "I Need Love." I have to admit that I wasn't as excited as everyone else when the opening chord of the classic came on. I am extremely protective of hip hop and in my mind, this was going to be a perversion of it. I guess that's why I hate Gospel Rap. It's not so much about the subject matter, but the lack of attitude that bothers me. When the cat came on stage in his Kangol and Adidas with fat laces, I almost lost it. This man just turned one of the most influential rap songs of my youth into a corny gospel song. And then it happened: the moment I feared. Phony L.L. started trying to get the crowd crunk with the old standby, "throw your hands in the air, and wave them like you just don't care, and if your ready to rock with G-O-D let me hear you say oh yeah." I was smirking by this time but then the "rapper" said something made me excuse myself. LL COOL J, Ladies Love Cool Jesus. I had to go before I disrespected the show with my laughter. That was crazy, but I eventually calmed down and went back to my seat.

The best part of the evening to me was the live band. I am a sucker for live instrumentation. As much as I love hip hop, there are not too many people I want to see in concert. The showmanship is just missing much of the time. On the other hand, this band was just sick. The female guitarist, Jam Girl, was like Eddie Van Halen back in the day (sorry to all the kids for the 80's reference, but he was considered the best guitarist of his generation). The bass player laid the foundation for all the hit songs the were playing and the 2 keyboardists were doing their thing too. Then we have the drummer. He whipped the crowd into frenzy with his drum solo. He looked almost psychotic while beating the skins, but it was obvious that the love of music had taken control over him. Finally a special guest pianist named Marcus Johnson came through and did a ten minute rendition of Beyonce's "Me Myself and I" ( which was renamed "Me, Myself and God" LOL). I never liked the original, but the live jazzy version touched the music lover in me. This one song made me add Marcus Johnson to my to be downloaded list.

So all in all, I had a good time at church. The atmosphere was nice, the music was good and the church folk seemed cool. There were some funny moments, and one that was just plain wrong, but I'm glad I went. Let me give a shout out to Destiny Metro Worship Church because they really put on a good show.

It was written...

11 Comments:

Blogger Hassan said...

I remember a time I went to this church...

Good stuff, brother. I'm glad you kept an open mind. Also glad you wanted to protect Hip Hop as well.

Sun Feb 12, 09:38:00 AM  
Blogger Unsaid said...

the whole time I was reading I knew it was that church...I attended it a few times when I was in Atlanta! My main reason was the music!

Oh and you were so on point with this "because I have issues with the society within the society that exists in many Black churches." I was almost shouting AMEN at the computer screen. But it's all good, I suppose I had to have my experiences with different churches to realize it wasn't for me and to focus more spiritually.

Sun Feb 12, 10:47:00 AM  
Blogger T. Cas said...

Oh yeah, I cant beleive I forgot to mention the epic finale. They broke out in to Cherrelle and Alexander O'Neal's "Saturday Love" and it was mindblowing. Everybody got up and started dancing. They changed the lyrics to "Always on Sunday, Monday is cool/Tuesday and Wednesday we give praise too/ Thursday and Friday the weekend begins/but our everyday love will never end." And then they introduced the band and everybody had their little solo. It was really cool

Sun Feb 12, 01:11:00 PM  
Blogger nikki said...

i'm not a church-going type of person, but i wish i had been there to hear that music. i can't believe they modified so many popular songs. was it a large church? like newbirth?

Mon Feb 13, 08:03:00 AM  
Blogger T. Cas said...

@ hassan - To say I kept an open mind is a stretch. I was actually dreading it all day, but was pleasantly surprised

@ unsaid - I still have my church issues, but the music was on point. I might actually have to go on a Sunday to see what they are really about

@ Nikki It's not even close to being as big as New Birth. I remember thinking that the sanctuary wasn't big enough for all the people that were there and my coworker told me that some people have to attend service in an auxillary room b/c of the crowds.

Mon Feb 13, 09:44:00 AM  
Blogger nikki said...

was the congregation as multi-cultural as the website implies? i definitely like the idea of a church having folks from all walks of life attending it. it makes me think the message is universal and the church itself isn't keeping folk out because they don't live a certain way or look a certain way or believe a certain way.

Mon Feb 13, 10:41:00 AM  
Blogger T. Cas said...

I saw 2 white people and 2 polynesians so no, it wasn't a multi cultural thing. I'm not sure how Sundays are. I think they included some token whites to make it look more accessible.

Mon Feb 13, 10:59:00 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow i am proud well as you know i went to an all black church on sunday in union city and the pastor has everyone leaning and rocking with it then had his face painted like he was about to start krump dancing or either about to break out in opera as the "phantom" but the sermon was good it was about everthing you and i talked about the other day and i just felt i was supposed to be there at that time. so beyond all of the other stuff i got the message. but i am glad that churches are using more secular methods to reach the youth to make it cool to go to church and worship God. (bb)

Mon Feb 13, 12:54:00 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

wow i am proud well as you know i went to an all black church on sunday in union city and the pastor has everyone leaning and rocking with it then had his face painted like he was about to start krump dancing or either about to break out in opera as the "phantom" but the sermon was good it was about everthing you and i talked about the other day and i just felt i was supposed to be there at that time. so beyond all of the other stuff i got the message. but i am glad that churches are using more secular methods to reach the youth to make it cool to go to church and worship God. (bb)

Mon Feb 13, 12:54:00 PM  
Blogger That Girl Tam said...

Love this post...sounds like you had a great time. Being Pagan, I think I would've been a little sheepish about attending someone's church function, but by the sounds of it (and I'm a HUGE music fan), I think even I would've had fun...but yes, insertig "Jesus" and "God" into the songs would've made me giggle too...lol...

Mon Feb 13, 04:40:00 PM  
Blogger T. Cas said...

@ bb: Krump dancing? people do that shit in real life? I'm glad you had a fulfilling weekend. I thought you would just be playing 'tendo and eating cereal. LMAO

@Tam: I've been meaning to ask you about the Wicca. Excuse my ignorance, but whats that all about? Any good websites or books you can recommend? A brother likes to learn about everything he can.

Tue Feb 14, 04:09:00 AM  

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