More than just Saint Patrick was smiling this past March 17 in Brooklyn thanks to a stirring concert featuring soprano, Debra M. Williams at Trinity Baptist Church.
The church’s contribution to Women’s History Month was predominantly the angelic tones of Ms. Williams, a professional singer both of classical and contemporary material. Ms. Williams understated demeanor as she graciously spoke to her audience was the opposite of the powerhouse sounds emitted by her through a canon of songs ranging from Gospel favorites (“Oh the Glory of Your Presence,” “O, Glory!,” and the enduring “Jesus Loves Me”) to Negro Spirituals like the heart wrenching “Lord, How Come Me here?” to inspired interpretations of contemporary tunes like “Grandma’s Hands” and “His Eye Is On The Sparrow.” Ms. Williams displayed a beautiful sound, knowing when to hold back and when to give us both barrels. She was as comfortable with a simple jazz favorite as with a rafter-shaking gospel standard.
The afternoon also featured the flawless ensemble work of Created to Praise and The Voices of Praise. Effortlessly these choirs lifted the spirits of the audience as they joined in with Ms. Williams as well as on their own for “I Love to Praise Him” and “How I Got Over.” Also sharing the stage was newcomer, Janokeil Clark, an aspiring singer and producer (he is currently preparing an off-off Broadway production) whose renditions of “I Look To You” and the heartfelt, “Tomorrow” showed a great promise in the voice of this young singer.
The singers were backed up by a three-piece ensemble consisting of Dennis Nelson on piano, Darryl Austin on drums, and Lino Gomez on bass. By the way they were introduced you got the sense they were just sort-of volunteering to help, but the exquisite sound that came from this tight-nit ensemble, and the precision by which they followed their singers was the stuff of professionals.
The final member of the concert was the audience. En masse they were moved by the gospel, hands flew in the air, heads nodded in soulful praise, voices joined either with the lyric or a quick “AMEN” punctuating even word. Laughter came from the crowd often and freely. Not the kind you get from humor or from derision – certainly not. The kind you get from when your soul has been touched.
Sponsored by Trinity Baptist Women’s Benevolent Circle, Rev. Dr. Glenmore Bembry, Jr., Pastor, the concert was the fastest – and most joyous – 2+ hours followed by the heartiest refreshments. But it should be of no surprise that the concert would be so magnificent… considering their most important backer.