Saturday, June 27, 2009

A gospel performance

I was a little bit nervous at first, standing on the stairs to the building where I was going to hold my lecture on Elvis' gospel music. What if no one would turn up? But then, when people began to arrive at a steady pace I thought to myself that it was going to be all right.

In all fairness, it was no big place to fill, an old classroom situated in what is now the community centre. But I was happy to see the seats filling up with folks wanting to hear about Elvis and listen to his religious music.

I kicked off with a film clip from The Trouble With Girls, the scene where Elvis sings "Swing Down, Sweet Chariot." After that I talked about Elvis attending church at an early age and listening to gospel quartets in Memphis. This I illustrated with playing "Angels Watches Over Me" by The Blackwood Brothers.

I then told the story about Elvis wanting to become a member in a gospel quartet but failing the audition. After a brief talk about his early career I showed another clip, this one of Elvis performing "Peace In The Valley" on the Ed Sullivan show. When I saw the audience (mine, that is!) watching attentively, I really started to relax.

The one hour I talked and Elvis sang passed quickly, and I wont bore you with describing the whole thing in detail. But I can tell you that "How Great Thou Art" from Elvis On Tour on the big screen was one of the highlights, as was the gospel medley from The '68 Comeback Special. And for those of you who are curious, here is the whole list of songs I used:
  • Swing Down, Sweet Chariot (DVD)
  • Angels Watches Over Me (CD)
  • Peace In The valley (DVD)
  • His Hand In Mine (CD)
  • Joshua Fit The Battle (CD)
  • Crying In The Chapel (CD)
  • Run On (CD)
  • If The Lord Wasn't Walking By My Side (CD)
  • How Great Thou Art (DVD)
  • I've Got Confidence (CD)
  • Amazing Grace (CD)
  • Lead me, Guide Me (DVD)
  • Gospel Medley (DVD)
One other thing that comes to mind was when I asked the audience if there were any questions, and one lady in the front row told me that she missed "He Touched Me," so I promised I'd play that one for her afterwards. I could tell it was a special moment for her, as she closed her eyes while she listened to the song.

All in all, I felt pretty good afterwards, and many people from the audience thanked me as they were leaving. I would like to take this opportunity to thank my father who got the idea to begin with, and who helped me with the sound.

PS: I nearly forgot. The local newspaper was there and took some pictures. The reporter told me as he was leaving that he had a hard time getting a shot of me and Elvis together!

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