AME Choir Opens Democratic National Convention

Written by: John Burton Jr.

Gospel music took front and center at the opening festivities of the 2016 Democratic National Convention as the historic Mother Bethel AME Choir under the direction of Jonas Crenshaw performed a spirited arrangement of the Battle Hymn of the Republic on Monday, July 25th.

Reverend Anthony Vinson, International Director of Music and Christian Arts for the African Methodist Episcopal Church and Minister of Music for AME LIVEthe AME Mass Choir  joined Mother Bethel for the performance and shared these sentiments, “What a honor to be a part of such a historic convention and a momentous occasion for a historic church.  Mother Bethel is the first AME Church in the nation, organized by AME Founder Richard Allen in 1794.  Among it many accomplishments, Mother Bethel has been a beacon in African American history having served as a stop on the Underground Railroad and hosting such great orators including Frederick Douglas and Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr. The music ministry of the church continues to celebrate the proud traditions and legacy of the AME Church and we are grateful.”

Crenshaw directingJonas Crenshaw, Director of Music and Worship Arts at Mother Bethel AME Church had this to say, “Singing at my church in Philadelphia is like singing on a national stage on any given Sunday. Mother Bethel African Methodist Episcopal Church is the founding church of the AME Denomination. As such, it’s nothing to walk into church with persons visiting from Africa or Asia or anywhere else from across the world. Just at church, I’ve met Kathleen Battle, Henry “Skip” Gates, Marc Morial, Representative John Lewis, and Hillary Clinton. We have to be prepared on every Sunday.  Performing at the opening of the Democratic National Convention was an amazing experience! When I first learned that the convention would be hosted in Philadelphia, I joked with my choir members about us being able to sing there, but never imagined that it would actually happen. After we finished singing, the enormity of the experience hit me like a ton of bricks.  It was definitely an experience I’ll never forget.”

Catch their performance here:

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