Westport might seem an unlikely place for a gospel choir concert, but there’s good news.
As in, the Good News Gospel Choir.
Based in Weston — a place even less gospelly than Westport — the group has performed often here, since their founding in 1982. They’ll do so again tomorrow (Sunday, January 12, 4 p.m.) at Green’s Farms Congregational Church.
Good News will also appear (ecumenically) on Martin Luther King weekend. They’ll be at Temple Israel on Friday evening (January 17), and St. Luke’s on Sunday the 19th.
That’s good news for the choir’s many local fans, who don’t have much to shout about on most Sundays.
GNGC was founded by Chris Coogan, a Weston native and jazz pianist. He went to Amherst College to study jazz, but fell in love with gospel. The group performs his arrangements of traditional gospel standards, as well as Coogan’s original, jazz-influenced compositions.
Good News is “a family,” says longtime choir member Marcy Juran of Westport.
“Music touches us all in a way that is profound, that transcends but also connects us as a community. As a group we support each other, through our music and through life events.”
After each rehearsal, members share significant events in their lives.
Choir members bring their children to rehearsals. The youngsters often sing with the group too, sometimes moving into solo roles.
Notable Good News alum include Justin Paul — recently nominated for a Tony Award, at age 28 — plus his brother Tyler and mother Rhonda. Sally Eidman and Mia Gentile — both making their way on Broadway — are former choir members too.
Tomorrow’s concert is a benefit for a former member of both Good News and BASIC, a Norwalk gospel group that will also perform. The singer suffers from a catastrophic illness, and health insurance does not cover enormous hospital bills.
Out of that bad news, comes Good News indeed.
No surprise. Here in Vermont, we have quite a few gospel choirs, and the audiences are growing and responding with increasing, incredible enthusiasm. My wife sings in the Montpelier Community Gospel Choir. She was raised Catholic, married a Jew, and we go to a great Unitarian Church on Christmas eve and Easter Sunday, as well as lighting Chanukah candles and attending a seder on Passover. This nationwide rise in gospel singing, among humans of all or no religious persuasions, goes to show you, in bold font, the transcendental power of music. But we already knew that. There’s just something overpoweringly inspiring about that gospel feel, whether you subscribe to the words or not. No, it’s not for everybody, but it sure does move me, my family and thousands of other Vermonters and, apparently, Fairfield County folks, as well. These days, it seems, we need inspiration and an emotional outlet more than ever. And nothing does it better than music. Sing on!
Dan, Just came home from the Good News Gospel Choir and they were great. However, what absolutely blew me away was the Spectacular performance at the end by Hughie Askew and BASIC (Brothers and Sisters in Christ). As soon as I got home I looked for them online to find out where they are performing again or if they have CD’s or downloadable music. I couldn’t find anything. There are lots of BASICs, and lots of gospel choirs and singers in CT but none I could find of the group I just saw. Can you or any reader help out and let us all know where we can all listen to Hughie Askew BASIC again or obtain their music. Thank you very much.