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Solomon Facey: iconic and lively choir director dies aged 44

GREAT LOSS: The death of Visual Ministry Choir director Solomon Facey has hit the gospel community hard

THE UK GOSPEL community is in mourning following the untimely death of choir director Solomon Facey. He was aged just 44.

Solomon, known for his talents as a gospel choir director – a lively and well-dressed one – started his ministry as a director of his church choir at the Ministry of Praise in Tottenham, north London, in 1994.

Encouraged by his good friend Pastor Junior Spence, he became director of The Visual Ministry Choir, founded in 1996. The last singing engagement Solomon did with the choir was in December 2018, when he directed singers at a corporate event held at Claridge’s, the exclusive hotel in central London.

IMPACT

Pastor Spence has known Solomon for more than 30 years. They used to belong to the same church denominations, and Solomon directed the choir Junior founded, The Visual Ministry Choir.

Pastor Spence is devastated by the death, and told Soul Stirrings: “I’ve never seen a death of someone in gospel impact everyone like this. Solomon was one of those people that brought so much joy, energy and love, and he was just loved by everybody.”

“He was very well known in Europe. Go to any gospel community in some European countries and they will know of Solomon. He just loved choir music.”

Solomon’s pastor, Monica Thompson, leader of Ministry of Praise in Tottenham, has known him since the age of four.

She said: “Solomon was a lovely chap, he wouldn’t hurt a fly. He was good at directing the choir, he did our choir and he directs choirs abroad. He was the most excellent member. We had no problem with him.” Although a well-known figure on the UK gospel scene, in recent years Solomon had been making a name running gospel music workshops and appearing in concerts throughout the UK and Ireland, as well as a number of European countries, namely Denmark, Poland, Switzerland, the Netherlands, the Czech Republic and Italy.


OUTSTANDING: Solomon was regarded as a trailblazer

Bazil Meade, described as ‘the godfather of UK gospel’, said: “Solomon Facey was one of the outstanding characters of British gospel. During the mid-90s, his Unity Choir, which he conducted with great flair, included many of his school friends. He was a dapper dresser and has trailblazed all over Europe teaching gospel music to choirs. He is at peace now. I hope to see him in the ultimate choir, but not yet.”

Pastor Spence is planning to hold a celebration concert in memory of Solomon after his funeral. At the time of writing, no funeral date had been set.

Other members of the gospel community have also paid tribute to Solomon.

Choir director and singer Ruth Waldron said: “You were one of the most flamboyant, colour-coordinated, stylish gospel directors I have ever met.

“You created amazing atmospheres in your choir rehearsals, and were so genuinely warm and friendly. A fantastic tenor.”

Daniel Thomas, a choir director and musician, added: “Our beloved Solomon Facey – one of the UK’s notable choir directors and a great supporter and encourager. In the space of less than a year, we (the UK) have lost two prolific gospel choir directors – this is such a great loss.”

Hans Christian Jochimsen, a music entrepreneur from Denmark posted online: “It is with a heavy heart I write this. My dear friend Solomon Facey died yesterday.

“Through many years, Solomon touched many people’s lives. He was a humble man, who cared about everyone, and he always wanted to know how you were doing.”

The Danish bishop Christian Alsted said: “The gospel music culture in the United Methodist Church in Denmark and Norway has been greatly impacted and blessed by Solomon Facey’s visits at numerous festivals and concerts in our churches.

“I give thanks to God for his ministry and witness.

“Solomon’s voice may have been silenced on earth, but he will continue singing in that great heavenly choir forever.”

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