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By Tanya Wilson


I attended Verizon’s “How Sweet the Sound” choir competition in Charlotte on Thursday. It was great to see choirs bring their best before legendary gospel greats like CeCe Winans, Donald Lawrence, Marvin Sapp, John P. Kee and my favorite Fred Hammond. Choirs from throughout the Carolinas, predominately black, performed at the event.

As a music enthusiast, with emphasis on gospel, I was in my element. Besides new releases like, “He Saw the Best in Me” by Marvin Sapp, and “Back to Eden” by Donald Lawrence, several of the choirs performed classics like “Going Up Yonder” by the late Bishop Walter Hawkins.

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I enjoyed the evening, but Donald Lawrence’s comments to the music director of an all-white choir from a Wesleyan Church bothered me. After the choir’s performance, Lawrence said “I didn’t know ya’ll had that much soul…I am surprised you weren’t intimidated to come up in here.” He didn’t say anything like this to the black choirs.

Wesleyan’s choir director was a good sport. I felt as if I was sitting in the audience at a D.L. Hughley comedy show with white people sitting in the front row and Hughley telling racial jokes. The difference; however, is white comedy fans expect a little hazing by black comedians. Racial comments at a Christian event aren’t appropriate.

I am sure Lawrence’s intention was to be funny, but I wondered why did race enter the discussion. I have grown tired of worship services and many Christian themed events still showing signs of segregation. Aren’t we one under the Body of Christ? Why is diversity limited within our worship and praise experience?

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