Faith of A Mustard Seed

Barbara Woods Washington

Barbara Woods-Washington

Born in 1685 Halle, Germany, George Frideric Handel wrote the most famous of all oratorios, “Messiah“.  His Father, a Barber-Surgeon, died when Handel was 11, but by then his marked gift for music has been clearly defined.  By 1702 he began the study of Law at the University of Halle and served as Organist to the Reformed Cathedral in Halle.  It was not long before Handel moved to Hamburg as a Violinist for the Hamburg Orchestra where he doubled as a Harpsichordist and soon premiered his first opera, “Almira”.  His work in Germany, Italy and England has marked history in a way that very few men of music have done.  But, it is his debut in Dublin in 1742 of “Messiah” that has created the deepest impression upon world history as ever seen.

It would take volumes to begin to demonstrate the effects of “Messiah” upon the Kingdom of God and beyond.  Just as “Apostolic Succession” attempts to show the Ordination processes linked as credibility; Messiah has inspired each generation to go forth in ‘newness’ of it’s life.  From the time I first heard “Handel’s Messiah: A Soulful Celebration” in 1992, which at the time I only knew that it had been produced by Quincy Jones of “We Are The World” collaboration; I immediately went out and bought it.  I had no idea the kind of lifetime ride I would be in for.

The New London Chorale founded in 1979, under the direction of Tom Parker is credited for popularizing classical music.  By 1982 Parker Arranged the musical production of “The Young Messiah“. This collaboration features the vocals of Labi Siffre, Vicki Brown, Madeline Bell and Katie Caisson.  “The New Young Messiah” is a revival by Norman Miller which debuted on Easter Sunday in London in 1991 with a May 1 recorded release date.  Norman Miller started his UK record label in 1970 which American-owned ‘Word Records’ purchased making Miller Executive Director of Word Europe.  Miller’s management company, ‘Proper Management’ continued to produce and manage tours for numerous artists.  He won the ‘Grammy Award’ for his work with the Andrae Crouch Tribute Album in 1996.

It is told that following his first production and recording of “The New Young Messiah” 1991, Miller “wanted to hear what the Black Christian Community would do with Handel’s Messiah”. His initial call was to Gail Hamilton, former manager of the acappella gospel group Take 6.  She was in that moment in time preparing to bring the Boys Choir of Harlem to Broadway. Hamilton, who herself sang the classical “Messiah” in high school and college wrapped her head around the idea and decided to contact Mervyn Warren, formerly of ‘Take 6’, by now a producer based in Nashville.  In an interview, Mervyn Warren talked of being a “PK” (“preacher’s kid”) growing up with “The Messiah” all his life. “My father was a minister, my grandfather was a minister.  My church, the Seventh-day Adventist Church, performed it annually.”  Miller told him to take every liberty in producing an all black version of Handel’s Messiah.  But Warren expressed his desire to not simply produce “All Black”, but “every genre of Black Music.”

Soooooo in 1992, “Two Hundred and Fifty Years” after George Frideric Handel debuted the Messiah, count them “250” Years later, in 1992 Mervyn Warren teamed up with Quincy Jones and in time for the Christmas Season, the world received the release of “Handel’s Messiah Soulful Celebration” for which Mervyn Warren won the 1993 Grammy award for the Best Contemporary R&B Gospel Album.

It would not be me if I didn’t add this note that by the close of the 1993 year Norman Miller again produced his “The Young Messiah” as a Tour with the hallmark recording at the Rosemont Horizon, IL, December 9, 1993.  Totally awesome!  On Youtube!  With not one of the artists from the Soulful Celebration Recording… for a man who ‘only wanted to hear what the Black Christian Community would do with ‘Handel’s Messiah’…

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