By Albert H. Fulcher | Editor
The San Diego Gay Men’s Chorus (SDGMC) never ceases to amaze and engage its audience. With three sold-out shows of its “Motown: The Music + The Legends,” the chorus delivered such strong performances, that they transcended time. Focusing on the relevance of a genre of music that helped bring the world together through music during the height of the civil rights movement, the show’s message radiated the importance of this history, the struggles of the present and the hope of the future.
Generations of people in the audience could not stop themselves from singing along with Motown classics and it took pure willpower not to start dancing in the aisles as the SDGMC provided one rock-solid performance after another. With the nature of the music and the talent of the chorus and its team, this concert showed that there are no limits to what the chorus can produce. Exhilaration in the room escalated song after song, leaving the theater begging for more.
For RC Haus (SDGMC’s artistic director), this was a personal favorite in artistic direction. Song choices and arrangements, and the juxtaposition of song, dance, testimonials and visuals rose in blissful sound well above the rafters of Balboa Theatre. From untainted ecstasy to exceedingly empowered moments in time, elements solidified the power that music possesses, regardless of genre and time. Adding iconic songs of Aretha Franklin and Gloria Gaynor with Motown greats propelled listeners into resounding euphoria. ¡Bravissimo!
With such an array to choose from, there were many pivotal sparks that were charged with emotion and devotion from the chorus to the audience. To start with, a tribute to Franklin by covering her 1972 recording of “Amazing Grace” (which the legendary singer famously performed at the New Temple Missionary Baptist Church in Watts, Los Angeles), intertwined with the chorus backup and the astonishing vocals of Arnessa Rickett-Jones, was a masterful and touching choice. Along with the chorus, Rickett-Jones also embodied the heart and soul of Gloria Gaynor’s “I Will Survive,” the epitomic gay anthem.
The Commodores’ “Three Times a Lady” was not only orchestrated with perfection, but along with the tributes to women past and present was especially emotionally charged. Starting off the first verse, Marc Owen’s tone was beautifully smooth like old-style churned butter. And that comparison, from me, is the highest of accolades.
The chorus and the arrangement of Stevie Wonder’s “You Are the Sunshine of My Life” was breathtakingly beautiful with its sharp harmonies was poetry in song. As a Georgia boy, (yes, that was me hollering), you had me at “Midnight Train to Georgia.” Janice Edwards and the chorus brought me to tears with that rendition of the Gladys Knight & The Pips hit. But they were tears of joy.
There was nothing dissatisfying in this season concert. From beginning to end, it was faultless. Expectations for each of SDGMC’s shows are always high — but every single time, they deliver. And this concert in particular was a brilliant ray of sunshine in an oft-dark world. Keep on shining your light, and we’ll keep listening.
SDGMC has upcoming auditions May 4-13 for its next for its next concert, covering Cher’s decades of music. For more information visit sdgmc.org.
— Albert Fulcher can be reached at email@example.com.