• After 21 years (a third of my life) of being at the helm of the Café of the Gate of Salvation, I’ve decided it’s time for someone else to have a turn. The choir has been so important in my life, the hackneyed term ‘life-changing’ doesn't begin to do justice to the history between us, the music, love and joy we’ve shared. It’s given me inspiration, fun and educated me in the many aspects of working with a choir. It’s been an essential part of my development as a composer and director.
It’s been a hard decision and feels like leaving home, but it also feels like a good time for me to resign and hand on the Avuncular Despot mantle - the choir sounds really strong at the moment, and there are so many members with the requisite skills to keep it rocking I know it will continue to grow. The choir has been doing gigs without me over the last few years when I’ve been unavailable, and they'll be performing at the Bellingen Global Carnival while I’m away, and doing some new material.
My last gig is at the Basement on September 20, – though I will continue to write and arrange songs for the Café. Thanks gang, it’s been an extraordinary and wonderful trip.
• Just about to head off to Paris to run a couple of workshops (merci infiniment à la charmant Liz Strickland et son mari Albert, et aussi aux amis à Sydney qui ont m'aidé avec le français - bien que Albert va servir de l'interprète au stage), then after a week in London, it's off to Memphis and Chicago with 12 members from the Band of Angels, where we'll attend choir rehearsals, church services, quartet programs and perform at concerts in churches in Memphis and at Northwestern University in Chicago – where we'll also catch up with E. Patrick Johnson, who many of you know. Looking forward to that.
Then Marianne and I are going to New Orleans for a few days to scope it out post-Katrina. I'm happy to have just heard from my friend, the wonderful singer and director Pamela Landrum that my favourite church there, Ebenezer MBC, is operating again, and that her son, choir-director and singer Rev. Jermaine Landrum has taken over as pastor. (I'm grateful to them for, among other things, introducing a couple of great songs to me: Glad To Be In The Service, and Lily in the Valley)There are still other friends I haven't been able to locate since the disaster and I hope to find them.
After that, it's a few days in Vancouver running workshops, and enjoying the inestimable hospitality of my good friend Marc Lindy, the host and producer of Gospel Train, the public radio gospel show. (I get to appear on the show, too.)