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Eastern Star (and 'Superstar')

February 5, 2008
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The balcony was shaking.

Literally. You could see the flag bouncing in the windless Artsgarden and I half-jokingly asked Alpha Blackburn, of Blackburn Architects, about the structural stability of the place.

What was causing this seismic disturbance?

The Eastern Star Church Gospel Choir, on stage in full force kicking off Art & Soul, a month of free events celebrating African-American art and artists in Indiana. (Rush over at lunch today and you can hear singer Lonnie Lester. Sunday it’s poet Tasha Jones.  Get the whole lineup at www.indyarts.org.).

The rousing Eastern Star concert got me thinking about religious music. What makes gospel appeal to wider audiences while some other religious music seems strictly for the faithful?

I found one answer from gospel superstar CeCe Winans, who told Jet magazine, “I think gospel music remains popular because the music is great; the message is everlasting. The music uplifts the spirit and feeds the soul.”

Gospel artist Yolanda Adams added “…when you are going through a trial or tribulation, you have to listen to something that is going to encourage you and make you feel better about your situation and that’s exactly what gospel music does.”

Is that it, or is there more?

And on a somewhat reverse note, the touring production of “Jesus Christ Superstar” opens tonight at the Murat Theatre. Thought by many to be heretical when it opened in 1971, “JCS” now is embraced by religious audiences. Why the change?

Your thoughts?
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