I was channel-surfing the other day and stumbled across a concert by the BYU Men’s Chorus class of 2000. I like choir music, and, in many ways, their concert was enjoyable and exceptionally impressive. They sang classics in Latin, sang opera in Italian, sang sacred music and fun music, and their harmonies were spot on.
Then they tried to sing a soulful Andrae Crouch song.
I have been a huge fan of Andrae Crouch since the 70’s, when, as a small boy, I would listen to his record albums using huge earphones in our living room. I was captivated by his unique style and the powerful lyrics of his songs that would often move me to tears.
When Andrae first started, he was a controversial figure in many churches because he brought Black Gospel into White churches, along with a driving rock beat, that scandalized many conservatives. Now, of course, many of his songs are in our hymnals (“My Tribute”, “The Blood Will Never Lose It’s Power”, “Through it All”) as well as several of the choruses he composed. Most people would recognize “Bless the Lord”, but his most famous chorus is probably the classic, “Soon and Very Soon” which talks about the coming of Jesus.
When the BYU Chorus began to sing Jack Schrader’s choral arrangement of “Soon and Very Soon”, I was curious. How in the world would these white boys handle a Black Gospel chorus?
I hated it.
It wasn’t their fault, though. They are simply too white and too stiff, and have probably never heard Andrae Crouch sing even once in their lives.
After crooning their way through a few stanzas, they tried to sway like a Black choir. Ugh…. Not good. If you’ve ever seen a white guy try to act like he has the rhythm of a brother, it’s a sad sight to see. As if that wasn’t bad enough, they began to clap on the offbeat. As impressed as I was that they knew how to clap to syncopation, the way that they clapped was stiff, and again, waaaaaay too white. It was evident that they probably never clapped in a church service in their entire lives, and it was awkward and a little forced.
To fully appreciate Andrae Crouch’s music, you must have some element of soul. Watching these white, stiff Mormons guys try to be Black made my teeth hurt. And it’s not just because they are Mormons. I’m sure this same, painful scene is played out in many white Baptist churches across America every Sunday.
To sum up, let me say to the BYU Men’s Chorus, “You guys are incredibly talented. Let me just give you this friendly tip: Don’t ever sing another Andrae Crouch song again.”
Watch their performance of “Soon and Very Soon”, then watch Andrae Crouch sing the same song. What do you think?
BYU Men’s Chorus – “Soon and Very Soon”
Andrae Crouch – “Soon and Very Soon”