As choir member John Eric Parker told a responsive audience, “You can’t testify unless you’ve been tested.”
And such was the feeling shared by 62 of Broadway’s best and most inspired singers at The Broadway Inspirational Voices 11 th annual concert for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS held on October 16.
Under the direction of founder and conductor Michael McElroy, the VOICES began with “Highest Praise,” setting the tone for the program to follow, which highlighted an evening of original gospel compositions penned by McElroy and Joseph Joubert – whose expertise at the keyboards will soon be “heard” on Broadway in the new musical version of THE COLOR PURPLE. As in years past the entire compliment of voices in the Inspirational Voices offered praise and thanks for spiritual guidance and support in over a dozen numbers, featuring soloists Ronnell Bay, Chester Gregory, Darius de Hass, Virginia Woodruff, Capathia Jenkins, an irrepressible Adriane Lenox and Chris Zelno, as well as a guest star turn in the second act by R&B diva Deborah Cox, singing “God Blocked It,” written by Kurt Carr.
TV’s Star Jones Reynolds hosted the show and not surprisingly introduced the choir as “the band that sang at my wedding.” – but also acknowledging that their many and varied credits also include performing at The White House, The Tony Awards, the aircraft carrier John F. Kennedy, Yankee Stadium and in numerous Broadway houses – none perhaps catered as well Jones’ well-publicized event.
Leading an expert band of seven, Joseph Joubert (McElroy’s co-writer) offered heartfelt musical direction. Some highlights included Tony Award® winner Adriane Lenox bringing down the house with her rendition of “Everlasting Joy,” Capathia Jenkins exquisitely soulful “Wash Me Clean” and certainly the moment Michael took to acknowledge his mother, grandmother and an extended group of family and friends numbering over 50, who traveled to the show by bus from Cleveland to be in the audience and by example turned the usual crowd of Broadway aficionados into a full-fledged, high-spirited revival meeting.