During Holy Week, award-winning gospel recording artist Damien Sneed is co-presenting, in conjunction with Wynton Marsalis and the Jazz at Lincoln Center organization, a series of YouTube videos featuring the historic Abyssinian Mass: A Gospel Celebration. The videos feature Rev. Calvin Butts, Damien Sneed, Wynton Marsalis and others. Check out the footage below along with Damien’s personal descriptions.
This first video shows candid footage of me, Wynton Marsalis, Rev. Calvin Butts, the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra and my choral group, Chorale Le Chateau during the Abyssinian Mass 2013: Gospel Celebration Tour. The footage was recorded during one of our performances in New York City at Jazz at Lincoln Center’s Frederick P. Rose Hall.
The video’s musical underscore is based on the movement PRAYER where the choir declares “Come Together through the Power of Prayer.” At3:44 – 3:46, you can even see Jessye Norman and Lawrence Fishburne seated on the side of the stage, standing up clapping and singing with us.
This video uses the title of a well-known collection of poetry by James Weldon Johnson “God’s Trombone”. My homeboy, Chris Crenshaw, trombonist for the Jazz at Lincoln Center Orchestra who happens to be from the CSRA area is featured in this video that was taped in my hometown, Augusta, GA and shows a lot of footage of my home church, Good Shepherd Baptist Church.
This video is a wonderful memoir of the experience I had conducting the Abyssinian Mass at my home church in Augusta, GA with so many close family, friends, high school classmates, music teachers and others in the pews watching me conduct my mentor, Wynton Marsalis’s original composition. This is a personally touching video for me. My 5th and 6th grade science teacher, Bishop Rosa L. Williams of Augusta, GA who worked as a school teacher with my deceased father speaks about her experience knowing me. And Wynton Marsalis tells the story of how we met and encourages me to continue doing what I feel to be a calling.
This particular clip is quite moving and was directed by Wynton Marsalis’ son, Simeon Marsalis. Meditation was one of the movements of the Abyssinian Mass, but here the viewer gets to see a montage made of up members of Chorale Le Chateau singing while Bishop Rosa Williams focuses and expounds on Psalm 23, Psalm 91 and what music in Heaven will be like.