Entry#041 Psalm 139:14
I praise you because I am fearfully and wonderfully made; your works are wonderful, I know that full well.
Entry #042 I Peter 2:9
But you are a chosen people, a royal priesthood, a holy nation, a people belonging to God, that you may declare the praises of him who called you out of darkness into his wonderful light.
Entry#043 Psalm 138:1
I will praise you, O Lord, with all my heart; before the “gods” I will sing your praise.
Entry#044 Acts 16:25
About midnight Paul and Silas were praying and singing hymns to god, and the other prisoners were listening to them.
Entry#045 Psalm 135:3
Praise the Lord, for the Lord is good; sing praises to his name, for that is pleasant.
Entry#046 Luke 17:15-16
One of them, when he saw he was healed, came back, praising God in a loud voice. He threw himself at Jesus’ feet and thanked him-and he was a Samaritan.
Entry#047 Hebrew 13:15
Through Jesus, therefore, let us continually offer to god a sacrifice of praise-the fruit of lips that confess his name.
Entry#048 Revelation 5:13
Then I heard every creature in heaven and on earth and under the earth and on the sea, and all that is in them, singing: “To him who sits on the throne and to the Lamb be praise and honor and glory and power,for ever and ever!”
Entry #048 Fully Committed
Born out of Philadelphia in 1991, Fully Committed is a gospel trio with the ability to sing in and out of harmony, from tenor to base, and background to lead, while still keeping a full quartet sound. The group is lead by the composing, arranging and producing of Erskin Butler, along with the arrangement and choreography of Tony Strong, and the vocal talents of George Daniels. Fully Committed took the Street Corner Gospel Quartet Style all along the east coast. They have received numerous awards and certificates for their contribution to street ministries, including the “First Place Award” at the Luther Barnes Song Ministries Fall Gospel Classic. Appearing and performing on television and radio shows, Fully Committed also ministers at many social affairs like shopping malls, record distribution centers, gospel cruises, church concerts and weddings. They have shared the stage with many gospel greats from Rance Allen to Jay Caldwell and the Gospel Ambassadors.
Entry #047 Carl Bright
Born and raised in Philadelphia, Carl Bright maintained longevity in music success. His mother was a singer, his sister played piano, and his father was a minister. When he was 11 years old, he started playing the piano for his father’s church when the musician moved. Bright had a group called Carl Bright Unlimited, which consisted of three women and his wife, which opened for the Hawkins at various concerts. He later formed a gospel group with his wife Guinevere and daughter Genesis. Bright admires many gospel artists from Donald Lawrence to Smokey Norful. He has shared to stage with many gospel greats from Bishop Charles Lyles to Bishop Barbara Ward Farmer.
Entry #046 Blue Gates of Harmony
Formed over half a century ago, The Blue Gates of Harmony continues to sing God’s praises. Arnold Parker, one of the original members since the group’s founding, remembers singing outside in various Philadelphia neighborhoods and traveling to gigs across the country. He was singing with a group in Virginia in 1960, until he moved to Philadelphia where the Blue Gates of Harmony was formed. The group quickly gained new opportunities to sing, and branched out to various churches. Pastor Terry Oakman of the National Temple Baptist Church, and member of the Sensational Travelers reminisces on the days when they would travel together to South Carolina once a year to sing. They believe that endurance and having a passion for what you are doing really pays off in the end.
Entry #045 Tony Fields and The New Testament Ensemble
Kirk Franklin planted this seed to take Gospel Music to all people. That seed was watered with the birth of Tony Fields and The New Testament Ensemble in October of 1996 at New Thankful Baptist Church in Philadelphia. Their debut recording, “Believe I’ll Testify”, is also the motto and mission of the group; to cause people to look beyond the superficial and into the depths of God’s love. NTE’s jubilant sound combines contemporary and traditional gospel music bridging the gap between God’s timeless message of hope and love with a fresh, contemporary style. This 30 member choir was formed under the leadership of Tony Fields, a gifted musician, director and minister of music. The group has opened for and ministered with many gospel greats from Kirk Franklin to Dottie Peoples. Tony Fields and The New Testament Ensemble continue to declare God’s goodness in song worldwide.
Entry # 044 Amy Dean
Amy Dean began singing and writing songs as a young child. She stepped into public ministry at age 14 with the formation of “The sounds of Joy Singers”, a musical group that included her parents, brother and friends from high school. Dean’s gift earned her solo positions in the South Jersey and All State Chorus, as well as many plays and musicals. After high school she earned a BA in Liberal Arts from Pennsylvania State University, and while there she was honored to sing for Bishop Desmond Tutu. Dean has served as assistant director of the Deliverance Evangelistic Church’s Sunbeam Choir in Philadelphia, and as director of the 80 voice Willingboro Community Choir in New Jersey. Dean has earned principal roles in off Broadway productions like “Raisin in the Sun”, “Black Nativity”, and “Sparkle”. She is founder and director of a nonprofit organization Faith in Action! Ministries, Inc, in which one aspect of the ministry performs on streets, in prisons, detention centers, churches and schools. They have also opened for many gospel greats from Kirk Franklin to Karen Clark Sheard. Dean has toured to Europe and West Africa, and has served as Youth Minister at Agape International Deliverance Worship Center, singing and teaching at various churches and seminars.
Entry #043 Nikki Rochelle
Nikki Rochelle’s first memories of music appreciation were that of Negro spirituals and hymns. Born into a rich heritage of sound from her mother and grandmother, Rochelle began singing at an early age with her 2 elder sisters. Their musical repertoire ranged from spirituals to current choir songs, from revamped hymns to contemporary gospel. After graduating from the Culinary Arts School, Rochelle began to write, play guitar, sing and travel abroad. She traveled with the Harlem Gospel Choir throughout the United States, to 3 continents and over 15 countries. She has shared the stage with, supported the sound for, and has opened for many gospel greats from Donnie McClurkin to VaShawn Mitchell. Her experience afforded her the opportunity to merge gifts with artists like Dutch violist and classical orchestra conductor Andre Rieu, and South African’s Soweto Gospel Choir. Nikki Rochelle’s name mean “Victory to the People rest in the Rock and Fortress”; and she lives to make a statement that Christ is the only way up in this earthly experience, and victory is ours through Him.
Entry #042 Edwin Newberry and the Newberry Singers
The late internationally known gospel singer, choir director and musician, Edwin Newberry Jr. founded the Newberry Singers in 1950. This all male gospel group’s popularity led them to appear with many gospel greats from the Ward Singers to the Dixie Hummingbirds. After a 20 year sabbatical, the group reunited and toured in Europe. Born and raised in Philadelphia, Edwin Newberry received a degree in medical technology from Temple University after serving a tour in the army. In 1983, he formed the Philadelphia Gospel Seminars. The goal of this nonprofit organization is to promote harmony through the power of traditional gospel music. This choir consists of about 70 members from all races, ages, and backgrounds. They have performed before heads and former heads of state, and are a part of the annual Liberty Medal Celebration.
Entry #041 Carolyn Bolger
Born the 3rd child of 6 siblings, Carolyn Bolger Payne has been singing gospel music for many years. This talented artist’s sole purpose is to glorify and praise God with sincere conviction before audiences young and old. Sharing the stage with many gospel greats, Bolger Payne has performed throughout the U.S. for many churches, colleges, conferences and concert hall. She has recorded with the late Rev James Cleveland workshop choir, the Thomas A. Dorsey workshop choir, Philadelphia Gospel Seminar Choir, the Philadelphia Ambassadors, the Smithsonian Institute Folk “Wade in the Water” CD, and with the Boston Philharmonic Orchestra. Bolger Payne has received many awards and accolades including the “Best of Philadelphia Music Award”, and continues to minister in song both locally and abroad.
Entry #044 Praying to Deal with Criticism
Jesus taught us to take no thought for tomorrow, what we should eat or drink, for tomorrow will take care of itself. Each new morning God gives us new mercies and our daily bread. He doesn’t want us to get caught up with the trauma and drama of how people feel about us or how they think we should live. He does however want the wheat and the tares to grow up together, so that He can teach us the skill of weeding out what is good and what is not. We are inundated with information and imagery every day. We have to be careful not to let everything inside of us. If we are doing anything of value, someone will have something to say about it. Unless they are sent by God to counsel us or speak into our lives, the majority of what people tell us is negative criticism. It can come from a place of envy, ignorance or malice; the end result is the same, it hurts. People that are going nowhere often criticize us for trying to keep it moving. People that have no direction or purpose in life often have so much to say about how we are preparing for our future. They are not offering constructive criticism that would propel us forward and help us to be the best that we can be. Constructive criticism is the process of offering valid and well-reasoned opinions or a recommended set of instructions aimed to collaboratively improve the overall quality of a product or service. It usually involves both positive and negative feedback in a friendly manner rather than an oppositional one, to improve the outcome. But rather, those that seek our demise will come at us with institutional criticism based on the improper systems in place. They can offer positional criticism attacking our status or position of authority. They may even use intimidation based criticism intended to coax us into being manipulated to do what they want. They can use associative criticism attacking who and what is associated with us. But if God is for us, He is more than the world against us. So we can go to Him in prayer for discernment on what kind of criticism we are experiencing. And He can reassure us either way in prayer that we are deeply loved, greatly blessed, and highly favored regardless of what anyone says about us.