We Lift Our Voices

We lift our voices
We join our breath together
Rejoicing in song.

I painted this piece yesterday to donate to the Arcata Interfaith Gospel Choir for the silent auction at the Prayer Breakfast and Gospel Concert we are holding this coming Sunday. I’ve been singing with this wonderful group for about five years. We perform joyous, lively and healing gospel music at venues around Humboldt County: in addition to putting on our own concerts, we perform at churches, fairs, and for inmates at the county jail.

Formed in 1992 right after the Rodney King riots on Los Angeles, and inspired by the Oakland Interfaith Gospel Choir, this group is based on the belief that music is one way to overcome the divisions of race, religion, and other identities that can separate us. At the moment, members range in age from 17 to 70, and they include Unitarians, Pentecostals, Buddhists, Jews, pagans, atheists, and many more variations.

I don’t consider myself to be religious, and I didn’t have any particular connection to gospel music before joining, or even much background in music at all. Yet I love being part of this choir. We sing with the understanding that there are many paths up the same mountain, and spirit moves through us all. From the smiling, clapping, dancing, and sometimes tears we see among the people in the audience, it’s clear they feel it too.