Lansing, MI, May 7, 2018 – Thirty years ago, Robert Ray wrote Gospel Mass, an experimental work, which sets the words from the Catholic Mass to the rhythm and harmony of African-American music. What was envisioned to be a one-time performance is now recognized as a seminal work of African-American music. Currently, choirs and churches around the world perform his now famous Mass.

Central United Methodist Church (CUMC) is delighted to host Gospel Mass on Sunday, May 20, 9:30 a.m., 215 N. Capitol Avenue, Lansing, MI. Dr. Stephen Lange, retired choirmaster and organist of St. Paul’s Episcopal Church with more than 45 years of experience, will conduct Gospel Mass. Dr. Lange has stated, “It is a wonderfully moving work that praises God and uplifts the soul at the same time.”

Several mid-Michigan musical icons will perform. Jeff Kressler, an award-winning jazz pianist and former band director in DeWitt, brings his considerable talents to this musical event. He is joined by bassist Ed Fedewa, a music instructor at several Michigan colleges, with performance experience with the Grand Rapids Symphony, the Lansing Symphony, and the Flint Symphony. Rounding out this talented ensemble is drummer/percussionist, Ian LeVine, a former member of the MSU Jazz Band and other locally known groups, who has more than 40 years of performance experience and has recorded several jazz CDs.

Local music promoters, Verna Holley and Rodney Page, will select other prominent Lansing vocalists to join the CUMC choir. Ms. Holley, long-time proponent of gospel music, believes the composer, Robert Ray, “wanted to do ‘something gospel’ that was written down, so he took the Catholic mass and wrote it in gospel style.”

There’s no doubt in Ray’s mind that God played a role in the writing of his now famous Gospel Mass. “God controls everything I do,” said Ray, a composer, conductor, and music educator. “It was written in about a two-week period. The hard part for me was not being a formally trained composer. The creativity was a result of divine inspiration. He was working with me.”

Caryn Welter, Director of Music and Worship at CUMC, promises, “This will be one of the most exciting musical worship presentations of 2018, lifting up gospel music with enthusiasm and a deep sense of commitment to the composer’s intent. We invite the public to attend—and to bring family and friends.”

Contact: Caryn Welter, Director of Music and Worship, CUMC

Church phone: (517) 485-9477