For twenty two years, gospel fans have been touched by the awesome talent of the Mississippi Mass Choir. Some faces have changed, but the choir’s mission remains the same; “evangelizing the world in song.”
They have ministered in song in over 40 states within the USA, including Alaska. They have been fortunate enough to travel to international stages in countries such as Japan, Italy, Spain, Bahamas, and Greece; becoming the first gospel group to perform at the Acropolis. While attending the famed Umbria Jazz Gospel and Soul Easter Festival in Terni, Italy, the choir was unexpectedly invited to sing for Pope John Paul II at his summer residence.
On December 8-26, 2010 they will once again “Go ye into all the world” with a fourteen city tour of Spain and the Canary Islands. According to concert promoter Luis Manjarres, “Since their first Spanish tour, Mississippi Mass Choir has become a classic of the European and the Spanish Christmas. They will showcase their talent in the main venues of Barcelona, Madrid, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Pamplona, Gijon, and Vigo. This tour of fourteen concerts will culminate on Christmas night, in the wonderful city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife at the Canary Islands, in a very special event with the 92 piece Tenerife Symphonic Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Lu Jia. Mississippi Mass Choir will be the first African American choir to perform with a European Symphonic Orchestra before an audience of 20,000. It is the time for Mississippi Mass Choir…It is the time for Classic Gospel.” The concert billed as “The Gift” is a Christmas present from the local government to its citizens. It will be “Live Streamed” at www.puertodetenerife.org or www.tve.es.
On October 29, 1988, Five months after their first rehearsal, the 150 voice aggregation recorded its first album and video. It can truly be said that they were an “overnight success. The album entitled “Mississippi Mass Choir Live” remained in the No. 1 slot atop the Billboard Magazine Top Gospel Charts” for 45 consecutive weeks – setting a record for a debut recording of any genre. Their next three recordings “God Gets the Glory,” “It Remains to be Seen,” “Rev. James Moore Live with Mississippi Mass, and ”Rev. James Moore Live with Mississippi Mass at Jackson State University” all reached the No. 1 position. Their first album after the untimely passing of Frank Williams in 1993, “I’ll See You in the Rapture” reached the No. 2 slot on the Billboard Chart; second only to Kirk Franklin’s recording-setting release. All of their subsequent recording reached the top ten or top twenty positions.
They have either won or been nominated numerous times for every music industry award, including the Grammy, Stellar, Soul Train, Dove, National Association of Record Merchandisers, 3M Visionary, Mississippi Governor’s Award for Excellence in the Arts, and a host of others. They were recognized by Billboard Magazine on several occasions as “Gospel Artist of the Year.”
Their tenure in the gospel music industry has already reached legendary status and continues to grow. Jerry Mannery, Executive Director of the choir, states, “We are all about our Father’s business. We are not entertainers, we are ministers for Christ. Our mission remains constant; to serve the Lord and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In preparation for their ninth recording, the choir held their first new member audition in over five years. One hundred new voices from throughout Mississippi were added to the roster to increase the membership to 250. According to Minister of Music Jerry Smith, “New members are the lifeblood of a choir.”
On February 1, 2011 this ninth recording – “Then Sings My Soul” will be released on Malaco Records. The first single “God Made Me” has already started its ascent up the Gospel Radio Chart.
Anyone fortunate enough to find themselves in the audience of a Mississippi Mass Choir “service” will soon become a participant in an unforgettable musical/spiritual journey.