Archives for posts with tag: gospel music

Last Sunday night we were at Madison and Ogden on Chicago’s West Side for the Reunion Concert of TSA Madison St. It was a great time of seeing old friends and sharing music in the filled chapel of Chicago Temple Corps. Monica Washington, TSA’s director, organized the event; thank you, Monica!

The reunion celebrated 26 years of TSA’s continuous ministry as a gospel choir. Gail and I were there when the choir came into existence with a few teens during the 1980s. Those were the years of Michael Jordan, Mayor Harold Washington, the crack epidemic. Young people living in the CHA Henry Horner Homes. Gifted young people who endured very hard situations. Today, many of them now can sing “Well, my soul looks back and wonders how I got over”.

TSA? The Salvation Army.

A few photos taken by TSA drummer Patrick Simmons –

TSA Madison St singing at the Reunion Concert


One of the Temple Dancer groups led by Raven Temple, they were great!



On a Sunday evening later this month, Gail and I will reunite with TSA Madison St.  TSA is now entering its 26th year as the choir at Chicago Temple Corps on Chicago’s West Side.

We were part of TSA during the late 80s and early 90s.  The first photo is from our first year, I think it’s a Youth Councils in the Chicago area.  Tarsha and Cynthia are the two young women on the left in the front row –

Here are Tarsha and Cynthia with Gail after rehearsal last Friday night –


We had a great time, brushing up on songs from years ago.  We get together again the next two Fridays.  Have a meal after the final rehearsal.  Then we sing Sunday, January 22 at 6:00 PM at Madison and Ogden.  Hoping some join us for this reunion.

The Chicago Temple Corps at 1 N. Ogden on Chicago’s Near Westside will host its Annual Praise Festival on Saturday, September 10, 12:00 to 5:00PM.  Change of plans:  Monica contacted me about a change of date.  Look for a future post on a revised date.

Choir Director, Monica Washington, promises an inspiring afternoon with some of the Salvation Army’s finest gospel musicians.  The afternoon will include food and fellowship, too.

For more details contact Monica at

Gail and I are northbound on US31 this sunny afternoon headed to our tent site at Ludington State Park.  We are taking several days to enjoy Michigan before returning home to prepare for Jamboree (tenting) and CBLI (no tenting).

I wanted to share what I saw this past weekend in Merrillville IN.  Bandsmen, singers, dancers, and some very funny people gathered at the Star Theater.  Every three years the Salvation Army sponsors a gospel arts festival that draws a couple thousand of us for a marathon weekend of performances and worship.  By the end you have heard and seen over a hundred presentations.  Some are, well, okay.  But most are stirring and wondrous.  And a few are transcendent.  I was transfixed many times, especially by the creative and imaginative ways some were able to work with what they have.

By noon Saturday it was apparent that worship in movement has finally come into its own in our Army.  Years past we’ve had interpretive movement, a little shuffling of the feet, a liturgical dancer here and there.  Rarely have we been stunned in awe.  And if the artists did dance and move, we Army people haven’t been sure we ought to appreciate it.  We yet have cobwebs gracing corners of our aesthetic sensibilities.

But this weekend, the Army danced!  It was pure joy to see onstage the young women ensemble from Minnesota, especially the littlest girls dance, dash offstage, and then dash on back for the finale.  Iowa City’s young people in mime and motion.  And the three young women from Kansas City Bellefontaine were absolutely stunning.  Full of grace and truth.  And numerous other times in small ways showing that we are learning something about the good news artfully presented in movement.

And we all got it.  Around me was nothing but appreciation and joy at watching grace and truth in motion.  We still appreciate the brass band (Kansas City Northland Corps, what fine ensemble playing).   But we are getting it, and getting into expressing our faith in movement.

The fluid play which dance and movement allows was paralleled by hip hop poetry from Detroit’s GCF (God Comes First).  St Louis Temple’s robed young people sang (they were a little nervous). 

Gospel arts from urban places have not always been able to escape their place in the margins of Salvation Army life and culture.  This past weekend they moved onstage at the Star Theater in a way that may show we now are beginning to see and hear urban worship in this Army.

Thank you, Patrick Simmons, for Kirk Franklin’s “I Smile” on YouTube.  Listened to it three times.  Reminds me …  earlier this year I was in Atlanta at the Kroc Center.  Guess who showed up for a recording session there?  

We heard that Kirk Franklin and his crew were coming to record a new song.   We were supposed to stay out of the way where the session was taking place.  Jason Pope grabbed a life-sized cardboard cutout of a Salvation Army bellringer and I, ah, assisted him in carrying it through the building.  We were going to see Kirk.

Got it through then realized that neither of us knew what he looks like.  We wouldn’t have recognized Kirk Franklin if we saw him.  Doesn’t change the fact that his music is good listening.

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