People that know me know that I have been extremely depressed over the outcome of the presidential election last November. Couple that with a birthday coming up this week, the depression only became deeper. And we can throw in another depressing situation in that the friend that I thought would be coming here to help me “celebrate” my birthday is unable to come after all. I have been walking around in my own “house of blues.”
However, just by chance, I happened to see that the “House of Blues” was having their monthly “Gospel Brunch” the weekend of my birthday and I called my daughter Michele to ask her whether the price of $50 included the brunch and entertainment. (I knew she had been there several times before.) She asked me why and I said that I thought that Hitomi and I would go for my birthday. She jumped on it right away and said that my daughters and grand-daughter in law had wondered what to get me for my birthday and we would all go, including Hitomi, as a birthday gift to me.
I do not think I have ever been in a “church” on a Sunday before. I am not of a Christian faith, and my Sabbath is on Saturday, not Sunday. (I should also say that I have never been in a Temple on a Saturday either!)
So Michele bought the tickets, and we were front row by the stage! Hitomi, Stephanie and I took a Uber, driven by a friend of mine, and Michele and Katie met us there. The doors do not open until 11:00am, but since it is assigned seating, we did not feel any great need to stand in line. We knew our seats would be ready for us when the line shortened. I found it interesting to note that the majority of people attending the program were Caucasian – Hitomi said she saw one Asian couple, and I only counted four people of black origin; I saw only a handful of Hispanics, and no one wearing any type of “foreign dress.”
Since I am a restaurant reviewer, I have to say a few words about the food. It was very good. Everything you would want on a brunch buffet was there. The Prime Rib was a little bit fatty, but still tasted very good. There were so many offerings that not only did I not go back for seconds, I never got to all of the tables for samples of the food. I missed sampling the jambalaya, but Hitomi said it was good and not too spicy. And, because the Gospel Singers had us up and down through their entire performance, I didn’t finish the food on my plate!
Now here’s the interesting thing about the program.
I, of course, knew what the program would be like. I have attended a wedding in a black church, and a funeral, as well. I even knew some of the songs that were sung. I am somewhat of an atheist/agnostic, and the lead singer, Ray Sidney, made many, references to a Superior Being. And for the first time that I remember, I was not offended, and actually found solace in the things that he had to say. His comments about the “devil making you lie but up above the truth is known” resonated well with me.
The inter-audience participation was fun. At first, when asked for all the “birthday people” to come up on stage I was reluctant to do so. I have never liked to call attention to myself, and certainly dancing on the stage is not a calling. But it was fun, and standing in the back row you have to look hard at the video to see me!
Mr. Sidney said that his mission is “to bring the Gospel Good News to all the Nations through the vehicle of Black Gospel Music.” And that he does, in spite of his two lead guitar players not being black! His back-up singers, male and female, were terrific in their own right; their solo’s brought chills because they were so perfect. The only thing I wish had been done differently was when he asked the audience which song “is the most popular all over the world.” The audience responded by saying “Amazing Grace” but he set the record straight; it is “Happy Birthday.” He then asked the audience to sing Amazing Grace. I hoped that the group would join in, or sing it without the audience, but he said that “we” did such a nice job that they would not tackle it. Too bad. I think it would have been a beautiful rendition.
I found that as I listened to their music, to his words, and participated in the songs, my depression was lifting, and for the first time in a long time I do not feel that there is a black cloud over my head. I want to publicly thank Michele for bringing the six of us together to celebrate this 70+ birthday, and making the day a happy one.
And as for the friend that couldn’t come here to help me celebrate on Tuesday? I fly out of San Diego for Fargo at 6:30am on Tuesday. The celebration will continue.
Hope to see you at the next Gospel Brunch – March 19 and/or April 16!