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Choir rehearsal inspires new generation to gospel

TEAM: Stephanie Oyerinde addresses the Choir Rehearsal audience

MUSICIAN AYCE Oyerinde and his wife Stephanie, the youngest daughter of UK gospel music legend Bazil Meade, are aiming to inspire a new generation of people, whatever their faith, into the delights of gospel music with their event called Choir Rehearsal.

Launched in May 2015, Choir Rehearsal, held when Ayce and Stephanie’s busy scheduled allows, brings together people interested in singing gospel for a time of fun, learning and togetherness. All the elements you would find at a great choir rehearsal.

Ayce, 33, decided to host Choir Rehearsal, after leaving the London Community Gospel Choir (LCGC), with whom he had a 16 year association which included serving as the choir’s musical director and creative director. He now writes songs, is a touring musician and DJs, amongst other things, but despite the change in direction he didn’t want to lose touch with his musical roots.

He told The Voice: “I’ve grown up in gospel. It’s been a big part of me, and it’s why I’ve achieved so many things. I’m thankful to it, so I didn’t want to leave that element of myself and felt I needed an environment where I could be playing, directing, teaching choirs and be around singers. I thought everyone loves a good old rehearsal so let’s have one.”

Bringing people together to sing gospel is not Choir Rehearsal’s only aim. Ayce wants to encourage more people to form and sing in church choirs.

DIRECT

Stephanie, who’s been married to Ayce for eight years, also used to sing with, and occasionally direct LCGC. Now that she’s pursuing other interests, including working as a session singer, Choir Rehearsal helps her maintain her gospel roots. She shared: “It’s great for your voice. As a singer I don’t get to stretch my voice as much anymore if I’m just singing pop and stuff so coming to Choir Rehearsal, you sing differently, you sing from a different place, not just physically, but emotionally as well. It’s music that I love, that I relate to.”

She added: “You get to meet with like-minded people, and you get to meet friends and meet new friends. And new people come in who might not be in church but love gospel. And you get to meet them and they get to see your faith from a different perspective.”


FOLLOW ME: Musician Ayce Oyerinde directs Choir Rehearsal

“I saw details about Choir Rehearsal on social media and decided to attend, not just to watch but participate. I’m so glad I did.

“I joined with over 30 other people, including highly respected gospel singers, like Annette Bowen and Lawrence Rowe of LCGC, and former Time2Shine winner Boma Diri who were also present to sing and have fun.”

I was immediately enamoured by the rich gospel sounds emanating from the singers who were rehearsing Show Up, a fast paced song, originally performed by gospel maestro John P Kee.

Ayce and Stephanie led proceedings, with Stephanie teaching the singers and Ayce playing keyboards in the top class band he had put together.

With her relaxed, yet authorative style, Stephanie taught us the intricacies of the songs – Show Up and I Worship You; on occasion she was joined by Ayce.

It’s been over three years since I’ve taken part in a choir workshop, and I have to say although enjoyable and exhilarating, it was tiring. Singing is hard work!

It can literally take your breath away as one attempts to, remember the words, harmonies and keep up with the song’s pace. In fact, I got out of breath at times as I tried to keep up, highlighting that I need to attend some keep fit classes!
It was obvious though, that my fellow singers, weren’t having the difficulties I was and were experiencing the joy that comes with singing gospel, as well as strengthening their voices in the process.

And when the rehearsal finished, people milled out, greeted each other, chatted and chilled. The atmosphere was lovely. Two days after the rehearsal, I was still singing the songs!

Speaking to Ayce and Stephanie after Choir Rehearsal it’s obvious they have big plans for this initiative. Ayce confessed: “In 12 months, I want to see us out of here because it is too small. And maybe a concert or two down the line.

“After hearing the sounds being created, it would be good for the morale of people to do something in performance. And just hopefully it develops and more people come.”

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