MetroStage under the direction of Carolyn Griffin showcased some of DC’s finest gospel artists Monday, July 17th in Soulful Gospel, part of the theater’s first annual summer concert series. Singer Lori Williams played a significant role in pulling together her friends and family for this wonderful series. The event was co-hosted by Gary Vincent and Roz White Vincent, gifted actors and singers in their own right. It was certainly a night to remember.
The evening was kicked off by Victoria Purcell who delivered each song with smooth perfection. She intricately commanded her voice as a delicate instrument, fine-tuning it for optimal delivery on each song. On the jazzy “Never Alone” Purcell showed the audience that she really knows how to scat. She poignantly sang “Smile” and “Beams of Heaven” noticeably moving many in the crowd and received a standing ovation. She concluded her performance with an delightful interpretation of Stevie Wonder’s “Higher Ground”. Purcell is scheduled to release her first CD later this fall. The singer has an incredible gift and it’s hard to imagine she does not already have a few albums to her credit. Recommendation: Run, don’t walk to buy her album when it comes out.
Next up was Vanessa Williams, member of Richard Smallwood’s Vision. The singer exuded warmth and was engaging in every way, adding dashes of humor to her outstanding performance. However, strong messages of faith were embedded in each humorous adlib. “That Name” caused many in the audience to wipe away tears as she delivered heartfelt worship to the Lord. Williams received several standing ovations throughout her performance and reminded us why she is a member of Vision as she sung the classic “I Love the Lord” in the way that only she can. This is clearly an artist who knows how to offer up soul music. Pick up the new Promises CD to hear more of this beautiful voice as she passionately leads “Is There Any Way?”
Robert E. Person is a voice you won’t easily forget. Although he said this was his first performance at MetroStage, Person was clearly in his element and wasted no time in connecting with the audience. Person has amazing vocal qualities and is very polished in his delivery. Performing a beautiful arrangement of “Great is Thy Faithfulness”, Person certainly reminded the crowd why he is sometimes compared to another gifted tenor, Daryl Coley. The audience got a special treat as Person sang “Someday We’ll All Be Free”, the title cut from his new album Soul Sanctuary. Another high point of the evening was Purcell and Williams joining Person on stage to sing “Goin’ Up Yonder”, a song penned by the late gospel legend Bishop Walter Hawkins. His final song “God Has a Plan” from his Next Level album definitely remains a crowd pleaser.
The audience was sprinkled with several DC area artists who came out to support the event. Sylver Logan Sharp, Lori Williams, Byron Nichols and e’Marcus Harper were all in attendance.
Carolyn Griffin and MetroStage certainly did a great job in recognizing the importance of gospel in the musical experience. Next week the performing arts theater nestled in the heart of Alexandria presents Inspirational Jazz, the last in the concert series. It promises to be just as exciting Soulful Gospel. Don’t miss it.
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Follow Vanessa Williams on Twitter. Follow Robert Person on Twitter and his Official Facebook fan page.
For more info on MetroStage visit www.metrostage.org