The one thing that immediately stands out here is the exuberance for and plenitude of "love for the Lord," and the Miami Mass Choir delivers-not only its enthusiasm but also a very definite message to all who listen. What listener would not be moved upon exposing themselves to such a magnificently noble aural expression of emotion?
The Miami Mass Choir was a brainchild of Savoy's Rev. Milton Biggham (director), whose desire it was to see the bountiful gospel musical talents of Florida exhibited and accepted. The Choir was founded in 1995 under the leadership of Rev. Biggham's colleague Marc Cooper, himself a Savoy songwriter and recording artist.
Marc Cooper started playing the piano before his feet could touch the pedals and this musician extraordinaire, choir director and songwriter's career hasn't touched ground since. Groomed by the likes of James Moorre and gospel legend Mattie Moss Clark, he grew into a musician who-nine times out of ten gospel-artists came to count on when their concert schedules took them to Miami, from Rev. Timothy Wright to LaShun Pace and the Clark Sisters.
In 1993, he formed "Marc Cooper and Friends" and using their own money, recorded an album independently. Cooper sent it to Savoy Records and theywere quite pormptly signed to the label. The album, "Glory, Glory," was formally released in 1995. Nominated for a Stellar Award, it also showcased Cooper's songwriting talents.
These days, Cooper is best known for the choir he started in February of 1995 when more than 100 of Miami's top gospel singers answered the call to organize a choir that would emobody the city's rich and multifaceted contributed to the gospel scene. And like Cooper, the Miami Mass Choir took off, climbing to number 25 on Billboard's Top Selling Gospel Albums Chart with their 1997 debut release, "It's Praying Time," and earning Cooper and the seventy member choral unit a Stellar Award for Choir of the Year.
On JUne 6, the Miami Mass Choir, which has evolved into one of the most requested choirs in the country, is back with their latest offing, "Just 4 You," and just as the title suggests, there is something for everyone in the thirteen treack CD that spans traditional to contemporary with a touch of seventies' funk along with the infectious Caribbean grooves that have come to define the Miami sound.
"It's a real nice mixture," says the twenty-eight-year-old Miami native, whose choir is also featured on Dorothy Norwood's 2000 release, "Ole Rickety Bridge."
"You'll hear a traditional song, but it's also contemporary. There's a contemporary arrangement of "Yes, Jesus Loves Me." Then "Kum Ba Ya" showcases the cultural Miami sound, so it has an island Caribbean vibe. An "Lift Him UP" has a James Brown/Parliament funky groove. Then we have the "down home" Savoy sound, "God's Been Good," led by Virginia Bostic, one of the singing veterans fo the city who was lead singer of the song "It's Praying Time."
"For the most part, the album is upbeat, but I believe we were able to stretch out a little. THere's a bit more intricacy into the musical arrangements and because this is a ministry, we've put our all into it."
The choir is a family affair for Cooper, whose wife, Joy, sings with the choir and penned "What God Has for Me is for Me" one of the cuts on their award-winning debut release. Their sentiment concerning their music is that it might be a blessing to others.
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