Common's On-The-Fly Preacing To the Choir NYE
By Margaret Lyons in Arts & Entertainment on Jan 2, 2008 10:46PM
Reader krs1 rang in '08 at Trinity United Church of Christ with a mass that puts just about every religious service we've ever been to to shame. TUCC, one of the largest black congregations on the South Side and home church for Barack Obama, holds an annual Watch Night service. (Watch Night masses date back to the 1700s, but now they're a tradition at black churches, said to stem from December 31, 1862, when soon-to-be-freed slaves gathered to wait for the Emancipation Proclamation to go into effect January 1, 1863.) This year's celebration one for the record books. Or at least the record blogs.
After the sermon, the Sanctuary Choir was rocking Kirk Franklin's gospel cover of Patrice Rushen's "Haven't You Heard," and much of the congregation was dancing along. She writes,
So now we have a multi generational mass of Black people in front of the altar, all doing the Electric Slide (in perfect formation, may I add; some stereotypes are true). Pastor Wright in the meantime is addressing someone off to the right of the dais; we hear him say,"You wanna come up and freestyle?" Then in his best cool Don Cornelius mack, Pastor Wright says, "Now let's hear from our member…COMMON!"
You heard me. Every congregant under the age of 30 simultaneously hollered at the top of their lungs, and bum-rushed the altar. Common, yes THE Common, also a Trinity member (what did I tell you?) takes the mike from Wright, and launches into a 3-5 minute freestyle rap, blending in themes from the sermon Wright had just delivered, plus a bonus plug for fellow parishioner Barack Obama (which of course prompted a huge cheer from the congregation).
Okay, picture it, y'all: Common is in the pulpit rapping; the choir and musicians are still jamming; Pastor Otis Moss and Associate Pastor Rev. Reggie Williams are on the dais jumping around in a circle with their legs hooked a la Kid & Play; the area in front of the altar and pulpit is packed with kids, teens and adults dancing and pumping their fists in time to the music like it's a rap show at the Riviera or something. (I was still in my pew, but on my feet, pumping my fist, yelling YO! YO! YO!) When I finally checked my watch, it was 12:30, but the party was still going when I gathered my coat and finally eased out.
Impromptu Common sets? Can we get an amen?
Image from Common's MySpace page