December 6, 2013
Gospel music continues to rise in Argentina
Precisely a year ago, Markanthony Henry, a gospel music professional from Brooklyn, New York, came to Argentina to work with singers and directors of the genre, following the last performance of Argentina’s first fully-fledged gospel choir, El Coro Gospel de Argentina, in 2011.
The visit was a highly emotional, musical and spiritual awakening for everyone involved. It came about following former producer Franco Gandullo’s visit to New York in 2012, where he met Henry and solidified a plan to bridge the gospel gap between New York and Argentina. The plan is in place and the bridge’s structure is starting to solidify.
For those unfamiliar with the genre in Argentina, gospel has been around for over ten years, after having been born in the city of Córdoba, where Gandullo and Gerardo Flores created the Córdoba Gospel Singers in 2002. Now there is a multitude of people involved in the scene, with more than fifteen groups between Córdoba and Buenos Aires.
Henry returned to Buenos Aires this week through Gandullo’s Gospel En Argentina organization. The aim is to work with Argentine singers, directors and musicians to prepare a show during a church service at San Telmo’s Presbyterian church. He will also give masterclasses in the city of Córdoba.
“The first thing I saw was the excitement after last year, which was really good to see. People were even more excited about gospel music, having learned more about it after I left,” Henry told the Herald in an interview.
Indeed, in comparison to last year, the numbers have multiplied two-fold, bringing more than one hundred singers to take classes with Henry.
“They were able to expand beyond ‘Oh! Happy Day’ and the basic gospel stuff and research other artists and choirs. A singer involved in the workshop this year told me that she had discovered gospel singer Nicky Ross, a regular soloist with many choirs in the US.”
“To have people investigating that quality of music, I think it’s fantastic,” Henry added.
Many people involved in this week’s activities are seasoned professionals who return to Henry’s classes after making a massive push for gospel music throughout the year. Worthy of mention are the directors of the AfroSound Choir: CaterinaFinocchi and Claudia Tapia; Argentina Gospel Choir’s director Gerardo Flores; Juan Pedro Zambonini of the United Gospel Choir; and Amado Costa, co-director of the Coro Gospel Joy.
The magical thing about Henry’s workshops is that, as well as the professionals, he’s also opening up gospel music to singers who have never experienced it before. For everyone involved, the workshops have been a reconnection with the roots of the genre.
“Not only am I teaching the songs, but I’m also talking about who wrote them and who recorded them and what they are known for,” Henry said.
Henry has introduced a Ricky Dillard song to the repertoire, with which he has tried to explain the energy, power and meaning that goes behind it; an insight that, perhaps, the singers might not be normally exposed to.
“As well as the message, I’ve been trying to bring across the right energy to each song we undertake.”
Professional singer and vocal coach Virginia Alayon told the Herald that she felt “blessed” to have been able to learn a fantastic gospel repertory again, following her involvement in the workshops last year.
“What I can take with me from this week’s workshops is being able to have perfected my delivery and singing with devotion to God. It gives you another kind of energy, happiness and force in song,” Alayon said.
Alayon has been singing gospel since her involvement in the Coro Gospel de Argentina in 2010 and has been selected to sing a solo this year at the end-of-week concert.
Agustina López, another gospel singer new to Henry’s workshops and a soprano in the Coro Gospel Joy, says that, “I’ve learnt how to truly master the art of performance, in particular the use of vibrato, and furthermore to never lose sight of the director, as the structure of the song in performance can change.”
Not only has Henry taught a tremendous amount in terms of musical technique this week, he has also opened up many people’s minds, spiritually speaking, inspiring many more to further investigate gospel music and their faith in God.
After a high energy and hectic week, Henry has put together a repertory of nine full-blown choral gospel works with one hundred singers and a full band.
They will be performing today at the Iglesia San Andrés at 7pm, as a part of the church’s regular Sunday evening service.
Entrance is free. To learn more about gospel music in Argentina, visit the Gospel En Argentina webpage: