Unfortunately, I never had the pleasure of meeting Mama Pat before her passing on Christmas Eve in 2004. In January I saw the Inner Light Community Gospel Choir for the first time as the opening act for Odetta at the Lobero. When Reverend Michelle Lawyer, member since 1980, sang “Motherless Child,” I just lost it. It was so beautiful; just thinking about it now I’m holding back tears. I thank you for that, Reverend Lawyer.
In addition to attending that concert, I recently participated in an Inner Light workshop. Steven Roberts, the musical director of the group, is a twice Grammy-nominated composer and recording artist. Being at his workshop made me feel like I was on top of the world! I was in the alto section, then found out I was also a soprano-and tenor. Roberts is honest, passionate about his teachings, talented, and so giving of himself. In his workshop he makes it very clear that you can leave your egos at the door, but he still gives everyone confidence and encouragement. We all can sing. Roberts’s recipe is that God can take a small bit of talent, add a large cup of availability, sprinkle on his anointing, stir it with his spoon of love, and that cup will overflow. Little becomes much when placed in the master’s hands.
Peter Hernandez, the artistic director of the choir, has been a member of Inner Light since 1992, and director since 2001. When you see Hernandez direct the choir, you want to jump right out of your seat and join in. His passion surpasses all; he is truly a gift. I joke with Hernandez sometimes and tell him that when I see him directing the choir, I get worried that he’s so into it he might bust out in a breakdance move and forget where he is. My favorite highlight of the evening was Mikkii Bouchard, who sang “You Can Depend on Jesus.”
Inner Light Gospel Choir and the workshop taught me something that I’m so proud to say still exists out there-the idea that we are all the same, and that we can leave the differences between our individual faiths and beliefs behind. This happens most when we come together and just SING! There is no judgment, only love, and for the first time in my life as a singer, I can say that, and it is TRUE! Thank you, Inner Light.