Monday June 13 2011
"You sang your face off tonight!" Jevetta said to Sam.
"When Jearlyn let out that piercing cry during the mourning scene, it hit me, right here," said her brother JD, thumping his heart. "I had tears running down my face."
"You were on tonight, Preacher!"
"You were working it tonight, Carolyn!"
Even after 20 years, or in some cases 30 years, the Gospel at Colonus performers are impressed with and moved by each other. Every night, I am floored with aural awe. And I am a relative 'newbie', having been sound engineer with the show for only 16 years. : )
And it's no wonder they are awed by each other. The Colonus cast and designers and crew are talented enough to have, over their years and individual careers, worked with: Prince, Sam Cooke, Ben Harper, Peter Gabriel, Lou Reed, Stevie Wonder, George Clinton, Donald Fagan, Kim Carnes, Carol King, Elvis Costello, Keith Richards, Laurie Anderson, Bobby Womack, Steely Dan, Boz Scaggs, Marc Anthony, Frank Zappa, Paul Simon, Miles Davis, Natalie Merchant, Natalie Cole, Justin Timberlake, Eryka Badu, New Kids on the Block, The Manhattans, Garrison Keillor, Meryl Streep, Lily Tomlin, Morgan Freeman, Tom Hanks, Harrison Ford, David Letterman, Conan O'Brian, Spike Lee.
I like to say that the big names listed here are talented and lucky enough to have worked with our company. The Steele Family from Minneapolis, who sings in the Gospel at Colonus, has sung with Prince a couple of times. They say he's brilliant. No offense to Prince, but I think the Steeles are pretty brilliant and he is lucky to sing with them.
We are such a varied group of people from around the country (and world) - Argentina, Pennsylvania, Atlanta, New York, Chicago, Los Angeles, Indiana, Minnesota, Virginia, New Jersey, North Carolina - and Idaho. The musicians and singers and actors all have extraordinary talent spilling out of their fingertips. Some of them are Grammy winners. Some should be. There are American Music and Entertainment Hall of Fame, and Rock and Roll Hall of Fame Awards, a Dramalogue and a Helen Hayes Award, an Obie Award in the bios. A couple of them are teachers. One hosts a radio show. One is a preacher. One is stage manager for the Lion King on Broadway. (Me - I'm just a horse person!)
Maybe it's once every year, or two - or maybe it's five years between shows - but we all drop what we are doing to get together to put on the show one more time. Theatre really is magical, when the lighting and sound technology blends with the artistry of diverse actors and musicians and singers to create a piece that never fails to touch people, every time it's performed.
I am so proud to say that I am a part of this Colonus family. I am always awed and humbled to be working for them. I love this job. I love these people, I love this family.
And so ends another epic Gospel at Colonus adventure, at the Spoleto Festival in Charleston, South Carolina. Now we go our separate ways, each heading back to our normal lives of stage, studio, classroom... or a saddle. : )