It’s a relatively cool day and the sky is wrapped in wrath. It looks like it’s about to thunder and hail. It seems whenever I’m on Whiteland’s campus in Roehampton University, its either raining or about to rain. Walking through a path way of trees leading up to a white citadel of architectural beauty, I saw the Whiteland’s main desk and reception area. But that’s not where I’m going.
To the left of me is the chapel, neither grey nor white but something elegantly in-between. The design of the building is very modern giving it a smooth finish. However, the architecture and weather is not why I’m here. I’m here because of Righteous Roe, the sensational gospel choir that’s been advancing the kingdom of God by singing His praise and inspiring others, like the Greek muses from the bygone classical era.
This is where the Holy Spirit sits in on its supernatural take place. I haven’t visited the chapel and already the lyrics are faithful and true laced with melodies of sheer perfection graced my ears. I could see the choir giving it their all through the glass wall. Lovedale Harrison was standing in front of the semi circle of singers conducting them like an orchestra. Two members waved at me as they saw me. I waved back happily and found my way in after fumbling with the door awkwardly.
A young black gentleman was on the piano playing the age old classic ‘Amazing Grace’. The rendition the choir simply ‘amazing’. You knew what was coming, almost everyone knows the song amazing grace but few have the apt ability to sing it the way this choir did. Lovedale stopped them near the end as they faded the song out holding a note which seemed something short of forever and told them to make it stronger.
To my ears what they had sung was brilliant but to her ears there were things left unpolished which needed improvement. Clearly this was one of the reasons why Righteous Roe wasn’t just any other choir.
Another reason of course was the singing capability of every single member here. It wasn’t by chance that these people were able to sing. The choir comprised of different races, a multicultural balance, very much a reflection of the kingdom of God to come which they aspired to.
The choir group invited me. I’m not the best singer, even though I am in a band but the tenors made me sound good as I tripped over some key parts in their customized delivery of ‘amazing grace’. Practice is the key here and I could tell they had gone over this song many times. I personally had to read the lyrics from a blackberry phone held up by one of the female singers. Just when I was getting into it, it was the end. Practice was over. Clearly I arrived late so I didn’t catch their full session but the little I had participated; it was enough to boost my spirituality. It was a very therapeutic experience but as I was reminded, I could lay the burden of life’s woes at God’s feet.
The chatting that went on afterwards was a site to behold. Some people had to leave, some stayed but the chatter continued. This wasn’t just a choir but a group sewn together with love. After singing along with the Afro-endowed man on the piano for what felt like a five minute rendition but was in fact half an hour or more. I spoke to those of the group that remained.
First I spoke to Ruth but couldn’t hear her over the piano. So after a second take, I was finally able to hear what she had to say.
“I just think that being in Righteous Roe is fantastic,” she said.
The piano started going again so I had to move in closer to get her words. “I love being with them because they are all just genuinely nice people. It’s fantastic!” she said. The expression on her face clarified the joy she has when she is with them.
Next I spoke to Jonathan, a newcomer to the dream team. I wondered what he thought especially being one of the three men on the team.
“What’s your name and what is it like being in Righteous Roe?” I asked.
“My name is Jonathan, I’ve only been here for three weeks,” he replied.
“Is it?!” I exclaimed and then chuckled.
“I don’t really what to say,” he said sheepishly. I can tell he wasn’t ready for an interview and started laughing to make him feel free. He chuckled too then continued. “It’s really good! We’ve done two songs,” he said.
“Right, right,” I said and nodding my head.
“Anything else?” I added with an air of hopefulness.
“Nah. I’m happy, I’m happy. I was just looking for a gospel choir. I’m just happy I found one,” he replied.
“How easy was it for you to find one?” I asked.
“It was quite difficult actually,” he said.
“Do you live on mount Claire?” I asked. Mount Claire was another campus of Roehampton’s.
“I live off campus. I found out about them (Righteous Roe) at the fresher’s fair. I mean I went to one before and,-” he shook his hand and I got the message. I burst out laughing. He joins in.
“So you feel content now?”
“Yeah it’s good, they’re organized. It is good,”
I spoke to another member, Famara, over the singing of the piano man and some quire members.
“Tell me, what it’s like being in Righteous Roe?”
“It’s a lot of fun. It’s something nice to do during the week, apart from thinking about Uni, essays, dissertations and stuff. It’s like a stress relief,” she said, sounding very relaxed indeed.
I had to agree. I was feeling very relieved.
“I love it when we all sing together and we all come together and sing and have a lot of fun, you know?” she said. I did know it was very fun, challenging but equally fun.
“I never used to sing that much until I met the choir director anyway. I found out a lot about things that my voice can do from being in Righteous Roe- yay!”
Next I spoke to Reannne.
“What is it like being in Righteous Roe?”
“It’s amazing. It’s great! Lots of lovely people, lots of lovely harmonies,” she exclaimed.
“How long have you been in Righteous Roe quire?”
“I have been in the choir for about three weeks,” she said.
“Oh! The same as Jonathan,” I said.
Finally, I got to speak with Righteous Roe director Lovedale Harrison, over a chorus of what sounded very much like ‘The storm is over’.
“How is Righteous Roe this year?”
“Righteous Roe is amazing! Lots of news singers, a lot more talent, even more singers than last year. It’s just grown. It’s really grown,” she answered.
“What are your plans for the future…in let’s say the next two weeks?” I asked, highly intrigued.
“We’ll still be rehearsing songs. We’re going to be singing at Saint Mary’s hospital,” she told me.
“Is that across the road?” I asked to clarify.
“Across the road from the university. We’re going to be doing a show with the metropolitan police. We’re having a Christmas show in December and then our big concert in March,” she answered.
“Awesome! Wow, so that’s a whole calendar list of events really?”
“Yeah and lots of little things in-between,” She said with glee.
“That’s brilliant, thank you very much,” I said to her.
“Thank you,” she replied. The noise drowned her voice, as the acoustic in the chapel echoes conversations back and forth. I joined them to be part of the warm gospel family of singers even just for the rest of the day at least. Hallelujah!