Wednesday, February 17, 2010

A Musical Evening at Zion Church

. Instead of my usual Tuesday night get-together with the Good Old Boys and Girls (GOBAG) Anna and I went with an old school chum Brad Martin and his delightful wife Susan to Zion Baptist Church in downtown Marietta to get a dose of Afro-American good Old-Time Religion education.

The meeting was held at the original Zion Church Building, across the street from the gigantic new modern Zion Church. The original congregation was made up of ex-slaves. Originally the ex-slaves were part of the First Baptist Church of Marietta. They broke away in 1866, one year after the Civil War was over.

When the ex-slaves started their own church, Zion, they did it with the First Baptist blessings and financial help. According to the lecturer Oral Moses, the white Baptists helped them to the exit door because the whites sung the religious hymns in a more reserved manner and the blacks put more enthusiasm in it, clapping their hands with the music, and well, just more bounce.

We were welcome warmly when we stepped in. They instantly remembered Brad and Susan and were genuinely thrilled that to see them again. The week before Brad and Susan were the only white people there, and Brad was probably the tallest person in the sanctuary - so, I’m sure they were easily remembered.

The old church is now a museum but also has pews, a podium, and everything that makes up the physical arrangement of a church. On the walls it has many pictures of the church’s history. With the help of the curator I was shown a picture on the wall of an Atlanta Postal co-worker of mine, Reverend Robert Johnson. I was told that Rev. Johnson was their preacher for over 30 years. He also worked all night at the Post Office too. He died several years ago.

The lecturer was Oral Moses who knew his history and music. He was also a very good singer. He belted out examples. He led the attendees in several songs.

He told of different hymn writers and the history of the time they wrote what they did in a very jovial manner. He avoided black suffrage, which I am sure was an inspiration for some Negro spirituals. I think he was trying to keep it positive. He touched on the beginning of the blues of how it got its start.

He knew his subject. He is a good speaker

Click here for his website.

Dr. Moses is a professor at Kennesaw University. He attended Fisk University and was a member of their elite Jubilee Singers.

When we were leaving the co-curator at the door was hugging everybody and thanking them for coming. When it became my time she held out her hand and shook it*. I told her I wanted a hug too, which she warmly obliged.

*that happens to me a lot. I can be in a group being greeted – everybody gets a hug but me and I get a proper handshake. I must give out the warmth of a cold fish with glazed eyes.

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