Mississippi Mass Choir
|Mississippi Mass Choir|
|Years active||1988 - present|
Serving God Through Song" is the motto and the mission of The Mississippi Mass Choir. Although striving to succeed in the gospel music industry, the choir's purpose is to help establish the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Since its formation in 1988, the choir has won numerous honors and awards for its contributions to gospel music. The group has traveled extensively throughout the United States, toured Japan and appeared in Nassau, the Bahamas. When you consider the level of success enjoyed by this relatively novice group of singers, it becomes evident that serving the Lord pays off.
After wrestling with the idea of forming a mass choir for some time, Frank Williams, a member of The Jackson Southernaires and an executive in the gospel music division of Malaco Records, decided to form The Mississippi Mass Choir. First, he got the record company's support. Then he began calling on well-known Mississippi talents like David R. Curry, who became the choir's music director. Having the foundation laid, open auditions were held and more than 100 voices from across the state came together to form The Mississippi Mass Choir. After months of rehearsals, the choir recorded their first album and video The Mississippi Mass Choir Live on October 29, 1988.
In the spring of 1989, five weeks after their debut album was released, Billboard magazine certified it as the Number 1 Spiritual album in the country. The album stayed on the Billboard charts for a consecutive 45 weeks, setting a new record for gospel recordings. At the 9th annual James Cleveland GMWA Awards, the Mississippi Mass won the Choir of the Year-Contemporary, and Best New Artist of the Year-Traditional. They also walked away with four Stellar Awards in 1989 and nominated in several categories for the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards and Dove Awards.
The choir's next project God Gets The Glory, in 1990, debuted on the Billboard chart in the Number 16 position, reaching Number 1 position two weeks later. Many awards followed with the release of the album. One of the most treasured albums released by the choir was the one on January 1993; It Remains To Be Seen. It maintained the Number 1 position for twelve months and proved to be a mainstay for some time. The special part of the album is that it contains the last recorded performance of the choir's founder, Frank Williams, who died on March 22, 1993.
With three albums released since Williams' passing, I'll See You in Rapture, Praise the Lord, and Emmanuel (God With Us), the Mississippi Mass Choir continues to dedicate itself to its self-described mission of "serving God through song." Their tenure in the gospel music industry has already reached legendary status and continues to grow. Jerry Mannery, Executive Director of the choir, states, “We are all about our Father’s business. We are not entertainers, we are ministers for Christ. Our mission remains constant; to serve the Lord and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In preparation for their ninth recording, the choir held their first new member audition in over five years. One hundred new voices from throughout Mississippi were added to the roster to increase the membership to 250. According to Minister of Music Jerry Smith, “New members are the lifeblood of a choir.”
The choir has ministered in song in over 40 states within the USA, including Alaska. They have been fortunate enough to travel to international stages in countries such as Japan, Italy, Spain, Bahamas, and Greece; becoming the first gospel group to perform at the Acropolis. While attending the famed Umbria Jazz Gospel and Soul Easter Festival in Terni, Italy, the choir was unexpectedly invited to sing for Pope John Paul II at his summer residence.
The Mississippi Mass Choir recorded their 9th album and live recording for their 20th Anniversary in June 19, 2009 before 4500 people at the First Baptist Church Jackson
The Mississippi Mass Choir will be releasing their 9th Live album "Then Sings My Soul" on February 1, 2011.
In 2009 The Mississippi Mass Choir celebrated its 20th Year Anniversary with the release of "The First Twenty Year" a compilation DVD and CD of songs recorded over the years, and interviews with trailblazing choir members.
In 2010 at the 25th Year Anniversary of The Stellar Gospel Music Awards The Mississippi Mass Choir was honored with the Thomas Dorsey Notable Achievement Award.
On December 8–26, 2010 the choir once again set out to “Go ye into all the world” with a fourteen city tour of Spain and the Canary Islands. According to concert promoter Luis Manjarres, “Since their first Spanish tour, Mississippi Mass Choir has become a classic of the European and the Spanish Christmas. They will showcase their talent in the main venues of Barcelona, Madrid, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Pamplona, Gijon, and Vigo. This tour of fourteen concerts will culminate on Christmas night, in the wonderful city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife at the Canary Islands, in a very special event with the 92 piece Tenerife Symphonic Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Lu Jia. Mississippi Mass Choir will be the first African American choir to perform with a European Symphonic Orchestra before an audience of 20,000. It is the time for Mississippi Mass Choir…It is the time for Classic Gospel.”
The world renown, Stellar Award winning Mississippi Mass Choir is slated to join the ICAN Foundation in South Africa for the 2011 National Youth Day Celebration. The choir will present various concerts around the country during their visit. This tour will be the choir's first visit to the African continent.
Through it all, the choir has maintained its humility, realizing all praise and honor belongs to the Lord.
- 2010 Stellar Award "Thomas Dorsey Most Notable Achievement Award
- January, 2000 Mississippi Music Museum Hall of Fame
- 1999 Grammy Award Grammy Nomination
- 9th Annual James Cleveland Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence Awards. Choir of The Year, Contemporary. Best New Artist of the Year
- 1997 Grammy Award. Best Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus, "I'll See You in the Rapture"
- 1997 Stellar Awards. Choir of the Year, " I'll See You in the Rapture". Traditional Choir of the Year, "I'll See You in the Rapture"
- 1994 National Association of Record Merchandiser (NARM). Best Sellers Award
- 1994 Stellar Awards,Traditional Choir of the Year,Traditional Album of the Year
- 1994 Dove Award Nomination. Contemporary Black Gospel Recorded Song of the Year, "Your Grace and Mercy" from It Remains to be Seen
- 1994 Soul Train Music Award,Best Gospel Artist
- 1994 Billboard Magazine,Gospel Artist of the Year
- 1994 3M Corporation, Innovation Award
- 1994 Indie Award. Best Selling Gospel Album, "It Remains to be Seen"
- 1994 Indie Award,Best Selling Gospel Album, "God Gets the Glory"
- 1993 National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM). Best Sellers Award
- 1992 Billboard Magazine, Gospel Artist of the Year
- 1992 Billboard Magazine. Gospel Record of the Year, "God Gets the Glory"
- 1992 3M Corporation, Innovation Award
- 1992 Stellar Awards, Traditional Choir of the Year. Choir of the Year
- 1992 Stellar Nominations, Album of the Year. Video of the Year
- 1991 Billboard, Album of the Year. "Rev.James Moore, Live with the Mississippi Mass Choir"
- 1991 National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM)
- 1991 Best Sellers Award
- 1991 Indie Award. Best Selling Gospel Album, "The Mississippi Mass Choir, Live!"
- 1990 Billboard Special Achievement Award. Recognizing debut album at #1, 45 consecutive weeks.
- 1990 Billboard Magazine. Gospel Record of the Year, "The Mississippi Mass Choir Live!"
- 1990 Stellar Award. Album of the Year, "I'm Yours Lord"
- 1990 Billboard Magazine Gospel Artist of the Year
- 1989 Stellar Awards Choir of the Year. Album of the Year. Best New Artist. Best Gospel Video
- 1989 Stellar Nomination Song of the Year, "Near the Cross"
The Mississippi Mass Choir has opened doors for fellow Mississippi choirs, groups, and soloist including Larissa Tate & Romans VIII, Ben Cone III & Worship, The Voices of Hope, Dathan Thigpen & Holy Nation, and The Anderson Sanctuary Choir.