Barbara Howard believes in the message of the Gospel.
When gospel singers share the good news, they hope to lift spirits by lifting voices, honoring tradition and celebrating African-American heritage.
“It’s important to remember, it’s important to reflect on our history,” said Howard, who lives in Albany. “It’s important to celebrate who we are — our past, our present — to springboard us into the future.”
That celebration takes place Friday at Gospel Gala 2015, which will be held at the Palace Theatre in Albany.
Gospel Gala 2015
WHERE: Palace Theatre, 19 Clinton Ave., Albany
WHEN: 7 p.m. Friday
HOW MUCH: Free
MORE INFO: 465-3334, www.palacealbany.com
Howard is directing the free 7 p.m. show with Hayes Fields II. Several gospel-loving groups — including the Capital District Youth and Adult Mass Choirs, Macedonia Chamber Orchestra, Tonesetters, Soul Rebel Performance Troupe, Bethel Ministry Puppeteers, Restored and Spoken Word Poets — will perform.
The annual show is sponsored by the African American Cultural Center of the Capital Region, and is part of the local observance of Black History Month. Howard said this year’s show includes some poetry and acting. Many of the choir directors, Howard added, are women.
During a rehearsal Monday night at Macedonia Baptist Church in Albany, musicians filled the large modern church with a big sound on songs like “Ain’t Got Time to Die.”
“It has to come from the heart in order for you to be able to give it out to people, connect with their hearts,” Howard said.
Keith Ledbetter of Schenectady agreed. “That’s what I do, I’m a born-again Christian,” he said. “It soothes me and helps me to soothe other people.”
Ledbetter, 58, feels blessed to be able to sing the gospel songs. “The Gospel,” he said, “is the good news.”
Mary Majekodunmi and her daughter Christana, who also live in Schenectady, are members of the Redeemed Christian Church of God in Albany. Singing is an important part of their faith.
Mary Majekodunmi, 46, believes singing is a way to rejoice, worship and brighten moods. “If you are feeling sad, you start singing and the sadness disappears,” she said.
Actors play role
Sharon DeSilva of South Colonie, a member of the Soul Rebel Performance Troupe, likes the idea that actors are part of a gospel event. For the gala, a scene from August Wilson’s “Fences,” a play set in the 1950s that examines the evolving African-American experience, will be performed.
The gala is an all-ages, family friendly event. Howard hopes young people come out for the music, dance and theater exposition.
“It’s important for our children to know their history,” she said. “The songs not only lift, but they tell the history of the triumphs and the struggles.”
Reach Gazette reporter Jeff Wilkin at 395-3124 or at [email protected] or @jeffwilkin1 on Twitter.