NewburyportNews.com, Newburyport, MA

September 26, 2013

Black Catholic choir to make first Amesbury appearance

By Mac Cerullo
Staff writer

---- — AMESBURY — For the first time, the world-renowned Archdiocese of Boston Black Catholic Choir will visit the North Shore to perform at the Holy Family Parish for an afternoon of rousing, foot-stomping, spiritual music.

The free performance will be held this Sunday at 4 p.m. in the church, and pastor Louis Palmieri said he is excited for the opportunity to have such a talented group come to Amesbury.

“They’re excellent,” Palmieri said. “They’ve been together for almost 20 years, so they know how to jell. They really do a great job.”

First established in 1992, the 45-member choir sings uplifting and spiritual music from the black Catholic perspective. The choir has performed internationally in Ireland, the Caribbean and Italy, where they sang for Pope John Paul II at a general audience.

The choir has also performed in churches, prisons and homeless shelters throughout the Northeast, and was one of three choirs chosen to sing at the National Black Catholic Congress VIII in Baltimore in 1997.

Choir director Meyer Chambers, who also serves as campus minister for liturgical arts at Boston College, said this will be the first time the choir has performed in the Greater Newburyport area, and he is excited for the opportunity to visit an area that featured prominently in abolitionist history.

“To be able to perform in such a historic area with regards to the events of black history is very special to us,” Chambers said. “With the birthplace of William Lloyd Garrison, editor of the abolitionist newspaper ‘The Liberator,’ and the home of John Greenleaf Whittier, ‘The Slave Poet,’ both located so close nearby, we feel we are on hallowed ground with regards to these great men who did so much to promote the emancipation of slaves in the United States.

“We are honored to be invited to perform in this beautiful area on the North Shore,” he continued, “and are looking forward to providing a memorable concert for all.”

Palmieri said the idea for the concert originated when a parishioner who has a connection to the choir mentioned in passing that the group had never been invited up to this neck of the woods before.

“When I was talking to the parishioner, I suggested that we extend an invitation,” Palmieri said. “So we did, and they agreed.”

The show will also function as part of the Holy Family Parish’s ongoing celebration of the parish’s 15th anniversary, which has already included visits by Cardinal Sean O’Malley and Bishop Robert Hennessey. Palmieri said he has not seen the choir perform live, but he has seen them on tape and they put on a great show.

Following the conclusion of the show, a reception will be held in the Holy Family Parish Hall.

If you go

What: Archdiocese of Boston Black Catholic Choir performance

When: Sunday, 4 p.m.

Where: Holy Family Parish, 9 Sparhawk St., Amesbury

How much: Free