The Sunday Football-Related Music Post, Take Two

Since this is a Sunday post it only seems appropriate to bring in Gospel, that is, if possible.

And fortunately, it is. I found a marvelous review by Tris McCall of the Star-Ledger of the NFL Gospel Celebration:

Here it was at last: a legitimate connection between the [2014] Super Bowl and the musical events being held around New York City in its name. A team of NFL football players exchanged shoulder pads for robes at the Theater at Madison Square Garden on Friday night, to sing the church music standard “Time to Make a Change” with the brio we’ve come to expect from men who make their livings by knocking other men down.

The NFL Players Choir, which has worked with the successful gospel artist Donnie McClurkin, has been around for awhile. The group initially convened to sing at the Super Bowl in 2008, and has performed, intermittently but steadily, since then. Its appearance at the 15th annual Super Bowl Gospel Celebration was brief but memorable, and helped anchor an evening of entertainment that otherwise had little to do with the game played last night.

Players stepped to the microphone to speak about faith, and about singing gospel as an expression of their trust in God’s plan. This stands to reason. Professional athletes are gifted with powerful but fragile, talents. Their profession is dangerous. It is not surprising that the messages of gospel music — the ephemeral nature of life, the mystery of blessing, the importance of individual expression, and perseverance through hardship and suffering — would resonate for modern gladiators.

I am not a football fan. Yet I know what it means to be crazy for a team and its players. If members of the San Francisco Giants came to town to sing, I’m not sure I could review that show with any objectivity. Those in the audience — and there are many — who recognized the players in the choir from the gridiron must have delighted in seeing this extension of their personalities. It is always wonderful to realize that men we admire and cheer for are more than what they appear to be on television.

But with no prior expectations for the members of the NFL choir, I am free to say I felt they sang exactly as I imagined football players would. They hit the line with force, but not a great deal of nuance. Their performance was a burst of energy, but it only moved in one direction — straight ahead.

Who knew there was an NFL Gospel Choir? Not me. Here’s part of the performance—judge for yourself.

As a classical musician I perhaps don’t understand the sort of nuances the reviewer was talking about. My (admittedly extremely limited) experience with gospel choirs would indicate that at least what I would term “nuance” isn’t a big part of it.

Not to say I don’t like “classic” gospel. Actually, I like it a lot, and as both an enthusiast and a choral musician I was thrilled to discover there is an NFL Gospel Choir.

Here’s a video from 2012:

Very fun!

Here’s how it came about, in a 2016 interview:

If you want a Steelers connection, the best I can do is this video (You have to scroll down the page to find the “2015 Reel.” If you’re paying really close attention you will see Hines Ward and Santonio Holmes in a tiny snippet from the 2008 Super Bowl, at :22 into the video. Don’t blink or it’s gone…

They are remarkably coy about telling you who is in the choir, but I did discover that Antonio Brown was an “entertainer” at the 2015 event. Maybe he could sing soprano now, after the goalpost celebration… If he wants any more kids, he would be better off sticking to Gospel celebrations. A little church lady humor there, I guess.

And finally, I ran across this while looking for material. I realize it isn’t music per se but it’s pretty funny:

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