Singer takes gospel road


Chris Jones will be singing from a slightly different songbook when he hits the United States in September as part of a tour which will include singing in churches across three states.
The Oamaru man will also squeeze in a trip to London.
Mr Jones jumped at the chance to join the Welcome to Gospel tour, organised by vocal coach Tony Backhouse.
He is a regular at Mr Backhouse’s singing workshops around the lower South Island.
“They are extremely good and I’ve got to experience the thrill of gospel music and four-part harmony,” he said.
“Having been to several of Tony’s workshops, I was in Arrowtown last August and Tony was talking about this upcoming gospel tour. After a rush of blood, I said right, I’ll do it, so I signed up.”The tour will take Mr Jones and about 40 others to Memphis, Chicago and New Orleans, where they will sing with African-American congregations and be part of church services.
“The idea is that we sing with the congregations. I’ve not experienced it, but from what I have read, they are amazing events that are several hours in duration.”The group will also attend several music festivals, while a lot of time will be dedicated to singing rehearsals and practices.
“It’s going to be quite something,” Mr Jones said.
“Gospel, along with blues and country jazz, were the basis of rock and popular music today. It was highly influential, and still is today.
“Clearly, it’s going to be a thrill to go and sing in four-part harmony. It’s something you feel; singing with a bunch of people is a thrilling experience. You feel the waves of the music _ you can’t describe it, but you can feel it.”He said for him, the tour was about “producing nice music” and experiencing American culture.
The United States leg of his tour is much later in the year but Mr Jones heads to London this week to visit his sister, Katherine. She is a member of Popchoir, a group he will sing with for about four months until he leaves for Memphis.
Mr Jones’ first involvement with choral singing came at Waitaki Boys’ High School. He sang with the school choir but gave up after a year.
It was only about 10 years ago he got back into singing when he joined Lynley Caldwell’s men’s choir Fly By Night and Southern Lights, a combined choir that also features women’s choir Lilt.
He was drawn to singing by his parents, who both sang in the Columba Church choir, while his father sang in St Anne’s Church, in Manchester, in the 1930s.
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