CULTURE

Gospel to fill the Herodion

Famous American singer and composer Liz McComb will fill the Herod Atticus Theater with the powerful sounds of gospel music, infused with jazz, blues and soul, tonight and tomorrow. On this magical journey, McComb, currently based in Paris, will be joined by four musicians well experienced in Afro-American music. Gospel music, an integral part of Afro-American church life, is very popular, mostly because of its ability to influence other musical genres, especially blues and jazz, but also soul, pop, rock and funk. Following the example set by Ray Charles, many other renowned singers have crossed over from gospel music to other fields, most notably Aretha Franklin and Al Green, and it should be noted that most Afro-American jazz artists acquired their early musical education at church. Gospel still features prominently on the contemporary music scene. Cleveland-born McComb, the daughter of a clergyman, had a strict upbringing and her ties with the church (where she was also a choir member) were strong. She was always very fond of music and singing and soon decided to broaden her activities into soul and pop, a move which caused a rift with her mother. Her distinctive style was perfected after her move to Paris, where she succeeded in incorporating various styles into her work while maintaining the essence of gospels. She has managed to remain a leading figure in gospel music for about 20 years now. For her Herodion performances, the singer will be accompanied by bassist, guitarist and vocalist Titus Williams, who began playing professionally at 14; church organist Harold T. Johnson, a producer, arranger, composer and pianist who has worked with acclaimed soul groups, including the Temptations; drummer Larry Crockett, whose collaborators include Elton John and Martha Reeves, and finally gwoka (traditional Caribbean percussion instruments) master Armand Acheron, founder/frontman of the group Poukoutan’n, who has performed at festivals worldwide.