The Black Gospel Blog.By Bob Marovich for
Dr. Feranda Williamson is Dean of the School of Undergraduate Studies at Capella University.
The choir’s fifteenth project and latest release, Chicago Mass XV Live, garnered two Stellar Award nominations. It was just nominated for the 2012 Dove Awards as Best Traditional Gospel Album of the Year. Williamson said it was the first project to debut via a worldwide television special on the Trinity Broadcasting Network. “We had an opportunity to record the album at the TBN Studio outside of Nashville in Hendersonville, Tennessee," she said. "It really brought in the audience.”
The group is planning a March program in Dayton, Ohio and a Good Friday trip to Round Rock, Texas. In December, they return to Spain, their second visit to the country and ninth trip overseas. They have appeared before appreciative audiences in countries such as Italy, Greece, and Switzerland. “You really feel value for what you do when you minister abroad," Williamson said.
Additionally, the Chicago Mass Choir will hold its 13th annual spring concert Saturday, May 5 at Sweet Holy Spirit Church, 8621 S. South Chicago Avenue. It’s more than a concert, Williamson said. It’s also an opportunity to give back to the community.
“Each year," she said, "we donate a portion of the proceeds [of the concert] to a nonprofit organization. This year we’re going to make a donation for breast cancer awareness. The last couple of years we contributed to the Haiti Relief Fund. When that tragic event occurred, everyone was reaching out, and now you don’t hear much about it but guess what? Our brothers and sisters are still suffering. They’re still trying to rebuild. There are still health issues that they are having to contend with.”
For the Chicago Mass Choir, community service doesn't begin and end with the spring musical. It's a year-round responsibility. Each month, the choir focuses on a specific issue. Sometimes it’s singing and fellowship at a nursing home, other times it’s adopting a school and providing young students with school supplies.
The choir also encourages members to perform individual acts of kindness. “We encourage group members to assist local health care providers, help the elderly with their shopping. One of the things I really like is when members volunteer for their church in an area they currently don’t serve. For example, cleaning the church and preparing for Sunday service one weekend.”