Review:The 10th Annual Battle of the Choirs
On October 24, 2019, at 6:00PM, the 10th Annual Battle of the Choirs took place at Sardis Missionary Baptist Church in Birmingham, AL. The event, which has become a staple piece to the Magic City Classic week festivities, was a show to remember.
The Battle of the Choirs is a good natured competition between Alabama State University and Alabama A&M, the two historical black colleges that will face each other in the football show down On October 26, 2019 for the Magic City Classic.
I must admit that I got to the show a little late- because, you know life- but I was still on time for an amazing show.
When I arrived Alabama A&M had taken the stage already. The ladies looked nice in satin burgundy dresses, representing the schools colors, while the guys looked distinguished in black tuxedos.
A&M’s choir used the first half of their set to show off their technical talents, while the rest of their hour was straight praise and worship. They performed classic spirituals like Fix Me and Be Still and Know That I am God. They did a simply stunning version of When I Praise that ran chills down my spine, but everyone’s favorite selection seemed to be I Never Seen the Righteous Forsaken.
This song was the last number of their set, but also the last performance for one of the choir’s members. The young man was embraced by several of his peers before he had a chance to conduct this selection and together they bought the house down! Cheers and praise resounded marvelously as many guests praised God throughout the song.
As A&M exited stage-right, MC for the evening and the host with the most Jermaine FunnyMaine Johnson brought on the laughs. Johnson did a roll call of all the sororities and fraternities present in the house that was hilarious to all.
After that, Sardis’s minister Rev. Dr. Kurt S. Clark took the stage to receive offering. Clark joked that guests didn’t have to go to the ABC store tonight but if they were about to, he asked that they gave the Lord His potion first.
Not long after the offering, ASU’s choir was welcomed to the forefront with the women in eloquent black and the young men adorned with gold bow ties. ASU, like A&M before them, showcased their technical repertoire first with complex renditions of Gloria in excelsis Deo, The Battle Hymn of the Republic, and Stand to the Master.
The most moving pieces in that potion of the set were the spirituals Aint’ That Good News and Deep River which were song tributes to the slain Birmingham area child Kamile Cupcake McKinney who was reported missing for ten day before being found deceased in a local landfill on October 22, 2019.
ASU’s greatest accomplishment of the evening was a tribute to gospel singer Hezekiah Walker featuring some of his top-charting Gospel hits like Grateful and Lift Him Up. ASU set the stage ablaze with each song and it was obvious this was the praise and worship session Alabama needed.
Alabama needed a fresh anointing from the Lord after we all mourned the senseless murder of the innocent three year old, Cupcake. I could sense that many of the emotions that flowed through the audience were utter grief for the sweet child, relief that she is now with Jesus, and gratitude that the Angel of Death bypassed the houses of many others.
There was gruttal screaming, joyful praise, and exhausted surrender seen and heard all around the church. One couldn’t help but be moved as the Holy Spirit meandered through the room. Someone even fainted at the weight of the raw emotions. The cleansing, purity, and honesty of it all was unlike anything I have ever witnessed.
The Spirit was still in the room as Comedian Jackson tried to commence his MC position, but even he was too overcome to quite come back the funnies.
The ceremony came to an end as Rev. Clark took the mic to open the doors of the church which is another phrase used for invitation to Christian Discipleship as ASU’s choir quietly sang the congregational hymn, Come to Jesus.
This program was not about who won the Battle of the Choirs, but actually it was a cleansing coming together of community after the tragic loss of Cupake. It also was a positive ushering in of the Magic City Classic game and festivities that are sure to bring a portion of joy back to Birmingham.
What a gorgeous and uplifting event! I am quite proud to say that I attended the 10th Annual Magic City Classic Battle of the Choirs.
Good Luck to both ASU and A&M in the coming game.