Wednesday Folk Traditions: The Total Praise Gospel Choir

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The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum continues its 31st season of WEDNESDAY FOLK TRADITIONS on July 18th, 2012 with the 3rd Annual Horace Clarence Boyer Memorial Gospel Performance. This year the museum welcomes Total Praise Gospel Choir, a twenty-voice choir led by A.C. Robinson and based at the Macedonia Church of God in Christ in Springfield, MA. The repertoire features both contemporary and traditional gospel songs, including works by Kirk Franklin and Fred Hammond. The concert will be held in the museum’s Sunken Garden at 6:30 p.m.; picnickers are welcome on the grounds beginning at 5 p.m.  Admission is $10 for adults, $2 for children under 16.

This concert will once again commemorate the life of Dr. Horace Clarence Boyer, professor of Music Theory and African American Music at UMass who helped bring gospel groups, including Total Praise, to Wednesday Folk Traditions beginning with the Museum’s very first concert in the early 1980s. Dr. Boyer served as Curator of Musical Instruments at the National Museum of American History at the Smithsonian and was  a United Negro College Fund Distinguished Scholar-at-Large at Fisk University. Dr. Boyer passed away in 2009 and his last performance at Wednesday Folk Traditions was alongside Total Praise Gospel Choir. We look forward to once again celebrating his life and work at this special memorial concert.

Total Praise Gospel Choir will be performing at Wednesday Folk Traditions (WFT) for the first time in five years. Since their last performance with WFT, they celebrated the opening of their newly constructed church off of Tinkham Street in Springfield. The construction of the church was a lengthy project. In September of 2008, the nearly completed church was burned down by arsonists targeting the predominantly Black congregation in response to the election of Barack Obama. With assistance from its own congregation and from volunteers from across the country, the church was finally completed in September 2011.

Total Praise is made up of singers in their teens, twenties, and early thirties, many of whom began singing in the youth choir at Macedonia Church of God in Christ and were drawn to Total Praise because it has a more contemporary repertoire. A.C. Robinson, founder and director of music for the choir is a long-time organist at Macedonia Church of God in Christ. The choir has performed with such stars of gospel music as Richard “Clean Head” White, Dottie Peoples, and Kurt Carr. Porter-Phelps-Huntington looks forward to having these talented guests return, and to celebrating the genre of music that was first brought to Wednesday Folk Traditions by Dr. Boyer.

Wednesday Folk Traditions is funded, in part, by grants from: the Marion I. And Otto C. Kohler Memorial Fund at the Community Foundation of Western Massachusetts; and the Hadley Cultural Council, a local agency, supported by the Massachusetts Cultural Council, a state agency; and with generous support from many area businesses, including Hadley’s Mountain Farms Mall, Easthampton Savings Bank, and the Walmart Foundation.

The Porter-Phelps-Huntington Museum is located at 130 River Drive (Route 47) in Hadley, two miles north of the junction of Routes 9 and 47. The Museum is open for guided tours Saturday through Wednesday from 1:00 pm to 4:30pm and by appointment. For further information about the tours and the Wednesday Folk Traditions series, call the museum at 413.584.4699. or visit