The Brockington Ensemble
39 Glorious Years 1963 – 2002

Philly’s historic choir, The Brockington Ensemble, has roots that go back to 1963 and significant ties to Rev. James Cleveland and the inaugral Gospel Music Workshop of America back in 1967.

Under the leadership of Prof. Irvin Brockington, the ensemble has been a force of consistency in the rapidly-changing Gospel sound through the past decades. Multiple albums over the years are testimony to that.

 CD 39 Glorious Years 1963 — 2002 is a live recording project, and a 73 plus minute musical celebration in a joyfully traditionally vein. It’s that never-quit church thump and tambourine-infused groove that is the essence of what The Brockington Ensemble brings to the table. The inimitable Rev. Louise Williams MCs and narrates the concert, her rich spoken word setting the tone for each song.

Many songs are familiar, such as “Up Above My Head”, which starts off acappella before exploding into a piano-driven beat and guided by alto soloist Edith Brooks.

“Beams of Heaven” makes a welcome return, with the Irvin Brockington mid-tempo arrangement featuring prominent organ and piano work. Esther Fortson delivers a good lead vocal before the choir enters half way through the song to support.

Another chestnut, “Heaven Belongs To You”, follows with tambourines, and “Just As I Am” comes packaged with plenty of keyboard strings and tender lead from Adaline Johnson.

From there to the energetic “King’s Highway” and the well-loved “He Knows How Much You Can Bear”, it’s like days gone by.

The Brockington Ensemble’s latest album is tried and true, and very much worth finding.

Producer: Daren Miller
album release date: January, 2003

— review by Stan North

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