Last Friday 27 April, Mary Coughlan shared a night of song with the SuSo Gospel Choir in the church in Kilcock. And what a night it was. For once, I got to sit in the front row and listen. I got to sit, receive, watch, feel, and witness. It was very special.
The Spark of an Idea
A few months ago, Eimear contacted Mary Coughlan to invite her to do a concert in Kilcock with the gospel choir, and she agreed. Eimear chose the songs that the choir would join Mary on, and I began arranging the music, and rehearsals got underway. My piano teaching coincides with gospel rehearsals so last night was the first time I had heard them sing in quite a while. And what a glorious treat it was.
Strong Hearts, Connected Souls
From the opening song, the gospel choir lifted the roof. From the soulful singing in the aisles for the opening number, to body percussion, choreography, and an amazing set list ranging from traditional gospel to Leonard Cohen to Queen, it was clear that the gospel choir had taken things to a new level. This was an awesome performance.
As the years go by, and each and every person commits to growing and to nurturing their musical selves, an amazing connection has been created within the choir that is vibrant and present and almost tangible.. Voices are shared in beautiful harmony, and as different people step forward to brave the wilderness of solo singing, the holding from the rest of the choir is so beautiful. Each voice is valued.
Presence in Song
And then it was Mary’s turn. I could listen to her sing on one note for a whole night. The first time I heard her music was when I was doing the choral arrangements but that was no preparation for her presence. Authentic. Alive. Honest. Powerful. Real. Present. The music flowed from her with such ease and power. It was the voice of her soul. No fuss, no trying, just presence. She awoke something powerful in every person there I’m sure. I watched her from the front row singing with the stained glass window lit behind her, the candle above the altar glowing and my heart was in stillness.
Towards the end of the night, the gospel choir came back to sing with Mary.
There is something really magical about hearing an arrangement that I have written sung by others. I hear it in my head, and I notate it, and Eimear brings it to the choir and works away on it. Lastnight I got to hear it without having to play the piano, enjoying the wonderful piano and double bass of Johnny & Barry. And Mary got to hear her music strengthened by a 75 voice choir! It was fabulous!
Everyone has worked so hard, led by the relentless commitment of Eimear to really go for it, to rise to the challenge and to create nights of beauty that change the resonance of the community and the world.
Completion – A Circle of Light
Mary spoke of being a teenager and mitching off school with her friends – if it was cold they would go around the churches of Galway and light all the candles and keep warm. She joked that they never paid for the candles. Well last Friday night, her voice warmed the hearts of everyone within the walls of Kilcock church, filling us with light and love. As all of our souls met in that sacred space, we were changed for the better. For me that is a candle debt repaid a thousand times over.
So, a huge thank you to Mary Coughlan and her musicians Johnny Taylor on piano and Barry Donahue on double bass. I’d like to also acknowledge Eimear’s incredible vision and commitment to the whole community, and to everyone who works behind the scenes to help these events flow with ease and grace. And thanks to Jamie Crehan & Tadhg Crehan Reilly for the wonderful photos. It’s truly a community affair.
“There is a crack in everything, that’s how the light gets in”
Written by Claire Crehan
This is one of my favourite songs of all time . With SUSO choir last night !Thank you everyone ❤️
Posted by Mary Coughlan on Saturday, April 28, 2018