On Sunday, Memphis will have the chance to do some soul searching at the Shell. The 2013 "Day of Prayer, Praise and Healing" kicks off in the morning with a prayer and healing rally featuring 24 Memphis ministers addressing the 24 top issues facing the city. On the agenda? A citywide cease-fire. Amen.
The afternoon continues with a "Praise Explosion Concert" from a wide spectrum of gospel artists: Memphis' Billy Rivers (pictured) and the Angelic Voices of Faith; Crystal Aikin, winner of BET's Sunday Best, a gospel-centered reality competition show; Grammy nominee, former Three 6 Mafioso, and gospel-rap pioneer Mr. Del; and Memphis' Pentecostal Church Mass Choir. It's a range of gospel sounds that will make for a great afternoon in the park.
Watching other people's religious services is problematic on a million levels. But it's easy to be drawn into this powerful music. Church organ players' chord changes are amazing, in particular the chords between the chords. The bass lines are fundamental to American music: From Count Basie to Billy Lee Riley, the syncopation came from the church. But the message is in the voice.
Crystal Aikin is an emergency-room nurse. Her voice is spectacular. Her 2009 self-titled debut album went to #3 on the Billboard gospel chart and was nominated for a Dove award. Her live performances are cathartic workouts that make you feel better no matter what you believe.
Also on the bill is the Pentecostal Church Mass Choir, which sings the white gospel tradition that inspired Jerry Lee, Johnny, Elvis, and Carl.
Irrespective of creed, it's good to see Memphians getting together to sing at the Shell.
"Praise Explosion Concert" at the Levitt Shell, Saturday, November 9th, starting at 3:30 p.m. Free but a $10 donation is suggested.