Mack Brandon and his entourage of choral talent filled the stage at Sharp Theater to showcase the genre of gospel through an energetic and vocally demanding performance. The New Jersey Conference Choir and Ramapo’s very own Gospel Chorus joined forces to bring the songs of the good book to life for the eager attendees.
The show featured many upbeat religious hymns that made for surprisingly powerful and dynamic performances with mainly female leads. The songs may have been timeworn, but the chorus was lively and that feeling reached the audience. Adorned in heavenly white, the choir acted as one instrument alongside harmonized tambourines, drums, guitars and Brandon’s keyboard while swaying in unison.
A passionate Brandon chimed in during the performance to talk about his love of gospel.
“We’re all in need in some way, this music speaks to that need and its power and joy sustains,” he said.
The beautiful and melodic songs captivated the audience. Many times throughout the performance, spectators found themselves clapping, dancing and singing along with the music of Brandon and his choir.
The group was very diverse in age, with members that ranged from grade school to some well into their 70s. For each song, one or two members of the choir would step up to the microphone and perform the solos with mastery. Some were slow and touching, while others were upbeat and powerful, which made the show unique.
“It was pretty good, and it had more soul than I expected it would,” junior Tom Zampesi said of the show.
Brandon was expressive and impassioned on the keyboard as he impressed with his speed and style and more importantly, his knowledge of everything gospel while the rising voices of the choir stirred emotions in the audience.
The changing background framed the group in appropriate colors according to each song and washed over the singers with a glow. The spotlighting was effective, and as always, the Berrie Center maintained professionalism when putting together and staging acts.
“It was an excellent show, and I loved the songs,” said audience member Corinne Bergin. “Mack puts a lot into it.”
The Gospel Explosion lived up to its moniker, as it was teeming with powerful ballads and emotional songs that did not disappoint those familiar with the songs nor the newer listeners of the genre.
“For it being my first time going it was very good,” audience member Dominick Gordon said.
There was little rest as the performers transitioned from one song to the next easily and with grace that did not leave any time for mistakes. The crowd-pleasing Brandon even asked for a song suggestion as the show came to its end, and his team was ready for it even though they had not prepared for the number.
The lobby after the show was full of heartfelt happiness as audience members lauded the work of the singers and complimented their ability. Many were moved, some were impressed, but all were warmed in some way by the soulful refreshment of the gospel music.
“It’s a great thing to do the most wonderful music in the world and be able to send a message through song,” said Brandon.
For a list of upcoming Berrie Center performances, check out the Berrie Center’s website.