By Diane Urbani de la Paz
Peninsula Daily News
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“You're in for a treat,” Allen Bailey said in an interview from his office in New York City's Harlem last week.
Bailey speaks of the concert this Friday night in Port Angeles — “that's God's country out that way,” he added — to be given by his small but voluble choir.
The group, known for its power vocals, dancing and delivery of songs like “Oh Happy Day” and “This Little Light of Mine,” is accustomed to venues like Manhattan's B.B. King Blues Club in New York City, the Blas Galindo Music Hall of Mexico City and Grand Cayman Island's First Baptist Church.
And they're about to don their choir robes for a concert at the largest hall in this small city: the Port Angeles High School Performing Arts Center, 304 E. Park Ave., at 7 p.m. Friday.
Tickets to the Harlem Gospel Choir's concert range from $15 to $35, while all seats are $10 for youths 14 and younger.
Tickets are also on sale at Port Book and News, 104 E. First St., Port Angeles.
When told of Port Angeles' population — 19,038 as of the 2010 U.S. Census — Bailey quipped, “I have more people in my apartment than you have in your whole town.”
Established in 1986
Bailey founded the Harlem Gospel Choir in 1986 in hopes of bringing not just music but the African-American church experience to people far from his home.
Since then, he said, “we've traveled a million miles,” though now, at 73, he has heart problems, and his doctor has forbidden him to travel with the choir.
“I'm very sad about that,” said Bailey, who has been singing in gospel groups since he was a teenager.
You'd better believe, however, that he still praises God at his home church, Greater Refuge Temple on 125th Street in Harlem.
With the Harlem Gospel Choir, Bailey has gone to cathedrals and clubs — as well as Jewish and Buddhist temples and mosques. Quaker meetings, too: “I loved that experience. You sit there, and you meditate,” he said.
What the Harlem Gospel Choir does is the opposite. Its music is loud and animated — and “very therapeutic,” Bailey believes.
“Everyone identifies with it. Everybody's gone through something in life . . . in gospel music, you can express yourself,” he said.
“People forget: We're not entertainers. We're not politicians,” even if the singers do travel to Ireland, Russia, China and all over the United States.
The singers are messengers of the gospel, Bailey said, the gospel also known as Christ's good news.
For details about this Juan de Fuca Foundation for the Arts presentation, visit www.JFFA.org or phone 360-457-5411.
Features Editor Diane Urbani de la Paz can be reached at 360-452-2345, ext. 5062, or at firstname.lastname@example.org.