Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir challenges racism with 'Courage'

Poster for Courage - Standing Up to Racism

“The freedom songs are playing a strong and vital role in our struggle. They give the people new courage and a sense of unity. I think they keep alive a faith, a radiant hope, in the future, particularly in our most trying hours,” Martin Luther King, 1962

'Courage’ is a collection of song and word which aims to challenge people of all backgrounds to play their part in dismantling racism and inequality. It was filmed at St James’s Church Piccadilly and released to watch on Youtube on 1st November 2020.

Between carefully chosen songs, ‘Courage’ features conversation between choir members about the events of the summer and how it affected them, and spoken word from poet and rapper Solomon O.B, the Bristol-based activist who is a visible figurehead at the front line of the Black Lives Matter movement there.

The opening song, ‘Strange Fruit’, was made famous by Billie Holiday, and profoundly protests against the lynching of Black Americans. Two other songs, ‘Change the World’ and ‘Pain’ are from Snoop Dogg’s 2018 release, ‘Bible of Love’, sung by John Kee and B Slade respectively. John Legend’s call to action ‘If You’re Out There’ and Whitney Houston’s ‘Step by Step’ bring energy and hope that change is possible.

Choir Director Clarence Hunte comments: ‘As an ethnically diverse choir, we wanted to respond to the events of the past few months by creating music that would draw attention, with depth and sensitivity to the issues and emotions associated with the fight against racial injustice. Many of us experience racism and we have talked together about the message we wanted to send and the changes we want to see in society.'

He continues: 'Our intention is to create an artistic experience that inspires people of all ethnicities to draw on their courage and continue the fight against racism. We also want to help ensure the cause is not forgotten, at a time when COVID-19 and other world events have meant it is no longer in the headlines.’

The Rector of St James’s Church, Lucy Winkett says: ‘It has been our privilege to work with Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir for many years now, in our services, at concerts and in broadcasts. We are proud to host this ‘Soul at Saint James’ first event focusing on ‘Courage’. In co-creating this event, we pledge ourselves to do everything we can to confront and dismantle the scourge of racism, knowing that this has to start with the church itself’.

‘Courage’ is the first of a new series of events called Soul at Saint James, a collaboration between Soul Sanctuary Gospel Choir and Saint James’s Church, Piccadilly. For ‘Courage’ they are also partnering with Lyrix Organix.

To give feedback on 'Courage' please complete this online form.

To learn more about helping to dismantle racism we recommend the following this blog post from Rich Mix.