Crossposted from

Edited by Azizi Powell on 10/30/2011

This post showcases different styles conducting choirs by several African American Gospel Choir Directors. These videos are re-posted from YouTube with several comments from the video's viewer comment thread, and with brief editorial comments. The videos are presented in no ranking order. The numbers are assigned to the videos for the purpose of referencing them in the editorial comments.

This post is not meant to represent a comprehensive overview of the conducting styles of African American choir directors.

These videos are presented for their spiritual, aesthetic, and/or historical values.

Video #1
Rev James Cleveland featuring Albertina Walker - "If I Perish"

uploaded by dpdaniel2 on Mar 27, 2008

"Classic footage of the gospel legend Rev James Cleveland featuring Albertina Walker. Taken from 'The Brothers and Sisters Live in concert' which was a benefit concert for 'Save the Children' in 1972."

Editor: Note how the instrumentalists and choir are feeling the spirit and therefore continue in spite of the choir director's direction. This is called "working the song".

The young woman soloist at 3:06 is Loretta Oliver.

Here are several comments from that video's viewer comment thread:

The Queen of Gospel Albertina Walker & Loretta Oliver are Matchless on this video.
-DarylJFowler; 2008

If I Perish!!!! Loretta Oliver is a singing somebody...I'm telling you. Albertina carried it to third base,but Loretta hit a home run!!!
-gospelbird22; 2008

thats that ole' baptist shout where ppl would hold ya!...they dont shout like that no more! chile' had to be carted out of that choir stand! go'head!
-pluto17dre; 2008

RIGHT! That is throwback... when people were free and spontaneous in their praise. I love it!
-ReddzVoice; 2008

Video #2
Wilmington Chester Mass Choir- "Ride On King Jesus"

Uploaded by FreLi77 on Feb 17, 2008

"This is a classic clip of the late Rev. Ernest Davis Jr.'s Wilmington Chester Mass Choir sing "Ride On King Jesus" back in 1988. This was recorded by a local Philly TV station for an annual show called "Gospel Extravaganza"."

This rendition of "Ride On King Jesus" is combined with the African American Spirituals "In That Great Gettin Up Mornin" (Fare Thee Well) and "Ain't That Good News".

Here are several viewer comments from this video's viewer comment thread:

hast wat u call ministering in song and not rushing and hoopen and holaren but nice smooth and very ministerial God bless u choir they should dont have choir's dat sing like that no more.......were u know its not fo sho..
-boyland69; 2009

I love how the choir leader is just calm, even though he knows his choir is on FIRE!
Love it!
-128Wright128 ; 2011

After all these years....I'm still loving WCMC. Hit, after hit, after hit. I can' t wait until May 6 2010 . That's when the 10th CD is going to be released. I miss Ernie greatly. I can truly say that WCMC wears his name loud, and proud!!!! Continued favor WCMC.....Maryland loves you!!!!
-dougiemac622 ; 2010

Added to my favorites! Takes me back.
-ChakaKhanian ; 2010
[Editor: This is a traditional (old school) style of Gospel Choir singing. Hence the statement that this "takes me back"].

@ChakaKhanian I like the harmony!
-Fbaise1; 2011

Video #3
In HIS Presence Gospel Choir - "Ride On King Jesus"

Uploaded by myfleshdiesdaily on May 6, 2007

This video of this Fairborn, Ohio choir is presented in part for contrast with the preceding video. In this rendition, "Ride On King Jesus" is combined with "In That Great Gettin Up Morning" (Fare Thee Well).

Here are several comments from the video's viewer comment thread:

MY MY MY, beautiful rendition of the song, what an awesome director
-njchocolate ; 2007

Yall better sang that! And you better direct them. Sopranos I bet not catch yall in the street yall sanging!
-crazyworship ; 2007

[Editor's note- "Sang" and "sanging" (which is often given as "sangin" are deliberate non-standard present tense uses of the verb "sing." "Sang" means "to sing very well, with a lot of spirit." This entire quote is an example of what I call "putting on the Black", meaning "to purposely speak or write in downhome (Southern), old time vernacular African American English."

For other examples in this post of this African American informal style of writing or speaking, see pluto17dre's comment in video #1 and boyland69's comment in video #2.

that a wonderful, outstanding, dramatically heart felt Choir Director!!!! You and your Choir Rock and I am not religious at all.
-bayardking . 2011

this is Minister Willie Blockum, jr. I enjoy this everytime I watch. God Bless.
-blockum2003 ; 2011

Video #4
Chicago Mass Choir - "Hold On"

Uploaded by kadeemgraves on Oct 13, 2009

Editor: Here are several viewer comments that are taken from the viewer comment thread of another video of the same song [I chose the other video because it's visuals and audio were clearer.]

Chicago Mass, one of the nations top choirs, a reincarnation of the Thompson Community Choir.
-shadhom; 2008

i love this choir... they have the teamwork and collaboration... they love their music, and they love God! Glory to God! Hallelujah!
-imqueenesther ; 2009

I had the pleasure of working with Tony Tidwell for a couple years and remain good friends with him. He's written alot of good songs for Choirs
-bhubbart; 2009

The intro to this song is just so smooth. The Doc really take you to church and the choir make you think you are already in heaven. Lord have mercy!!!!!!!!!
-bethayc; 2011

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