The sanctuary of the New York Society for Ethical Culture was filled with love, faith, and good will – not to mention a whirlwind of sound – as Michael McElroy and The Broadway Inspirational Voices gave their all in the Gospel Celebration 2001, two benefit performances in October for Broadway Cares/Equity Fights AIDS.
The Broadway Inspirational Voices is a gospel ensemble founded and musically directed by Michael McElroy, who has appeared on Broadway in such productions as Rent, The Wild Party, Miss Saigon, and most recently, Off-Broadway’s Blu. McElroy also serves as a member of BC/EFA’s Board of Trustees. The Inspirational Voices is comprised of an impressive roster of singers from 40 Broadway and Off-Broadway shows including Aida, Jesus Christ Superstar, Kiss Me Kate, Jekyll & Hyde, The Music Man, Cabaret, Smokey Joe’s Café, Beauty and the Beast, and Les MisJrables.
Angela Robinson began the Gospel Celebration with an inspiring invocation to the audience to feel strength in our common humanity, as people of all faiths and backgrounds came together to celebrate as a community the higher power that underlines every faith.
The Gospel Celebration’s first show on Sunday, Oct. 7th featured stellar guest performances by three-time Grammy nominee Oleta Adams, who lent her rich, full-flavored tone to “We Fall Down,” as well as the world-renowned Centurymen (one hundred impeccable voices in one hundred tuxedos), who filled the aisles with a stirring rendition of “Ave Maria” that began a cappella and was then joined by the choir. Guest soloist and angelic soprano Renay Peters Joubert, a member of Opera Ebony, sang a heavenly “True Religion,” a performance she repeated at the second show on Monday, October 15th.
As always, the combined talent of the Broadway Inspirational Voices was spirit-lifting. As they paraded through the aisles to sing among the people, the audience was moved, sometimes literally, right out of their seats through the Gospel music. Over fifty voices strong, the Voices filled the house, and the hearts of all who attended, and rang out the doors onto 64th Street, where their spirits sustained through the night.