Sesaya specializes in music and arts education.
Gospel means “good news”. And that is exactly what the audience received at Toronto’s George Weston Recital Hall, at Meridian Arts Centre (formerly the Toronto Centre for the Arts) last night! The Kingdom Choir garnered instant recognition with their show-stopping performance of “Stand by Me” at the Royal Wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle. The UK sensation is making their Canadian debut here in Toronto.
The Kingdom Choir is composed of 20 singers, described online as “A unique group of dedicated men and women, who blend Choral discipline with the raw Gospel spiritual sound – drawn from an inner experience.” The choir comes from South-East London, and dedicates themselves to creating a sound that reflects their community. After performing together for 20 years, the choir has become recognized for its sound, high energy, and messages of love, hope, and inspiration.
Karen Gibson, also known as the godmother of gospel in London, England, is the founder of the choir. This award-winning conductor has your attention the moment she walks on stage: “My name is Karen. What’s yours?” We answer her questions, we wave our scarves, and we sing along (even when we don’t know the words). Her leadership, her voice, and her talent are remarkable, and as an audience member, you have to watch her move into and through the choir, as she allows each choir member to lead with their voice and perform. By the end of the evening, you feel like you’ve met each performer. A Nelson Mandela quote illustrates Karen Gibson’s style and presence on stage: “Lead from the back – and let others believe they are in front”.
From the Aretha Franklin medley to a beautiful rendition of “Amazing Grace”, there was something for everyone. The one song that changed everything for this choir also gave them the title for their “Stand by Me Tour”, and Toronto was fortunate to host the Canadian debut.
The choir will be visiting 31 cities during the next 6 weeks, and I expect they will give each audience a performance that is both an individual experience and one shared with the 2 billion viewers of the Royal Wedding. While there were rumours that Ed Sheeran or the Spice Girls were to perform at the Royal Wedding, the right choice was made in choosing The Kingdom Choir, which reigns supreme. Toronto thanks them for their energy and charm.
All of the proceeds from this evening’s performance supports the presentation and accessibility of Mandela: Struggle for Freedom, an exhibition running until January 5, 2020 at the Meridian Arts Centre.
News You Can Use
What: The Kingdom Choir, conducted by Karen Gibson | Presented by TO Live
When: Tuesday November 5th and Wednesday November 6th at 7:30 pm
Where: George Weston Recital Hall at the Meridian Arts Centre, 5040 Yonge Street, Toronto, ON
Info and Tickets: merdianartscentre.com
© Sylvie Webb, Sesaya / SesayArts Magazine, 2019