Body & Soul with Gail Harris
Program List
Tell Me More

Reading List

The Series
Who We Are
How It Began

Talk to Us

Companion Book
Program Videos

PBS Online

Ode to Joy: Why Your Attitude Matters
The Gospel of Sister Alice

Mary Alice Williams grew up in Philadelphia and is still a member of the church she grew up singing in as a child. "As a little girl in church music always made me feel happy. I sang in groups, and then our house was always blasting with music, gospel music, and it's just become part of life."

Sister Alice, as she is more readily known, has never stopped singing. She's been the group musical instructor for the "Queen of Gospel," the late Marion Williams and her Marion Williams Singers, as well as for the acclaimed gospel choir of Haverford and Bryn Mawr Colleges in suburban Philadelphia. And for the past six years, Sister Alice has been an instructor at the Omega Institute in Rhinebeck, N.Y., where she leads summer workshops in gospel singing that is more about making a joyful noise than necessarily hitting all the notes.

"I always start out with a very easy song which I call a confidence builder, something they can learn fast, something that is not difficult. And it builds their confidence, and when they learn that song within five to 10 minutes, and they learn it effectively, then after that I can teach them anything.

"Gospel music to me is about hope. Sometimes when I felt like there was no hope in some situations, it gave me the strength to pull myself together and move on out into bigger and better things.

"This music does bring about a joy that makes your physical body respond to what you feel. It brings about a different focus on life. Gospel music is healing. It's healing to body, soul, and spirit.

"It's a gift that God gave my people. When I say my people, I mean African Americans. It was some of those songs like "Amazing Grace" and "If I Can Help Somebody" and "Swing Low Sweet Chariot", those songs sent out signals and messages of hope. And I believe that's why our people are so strong. And I believe the same hope it brought to them, it brings to everybody now."

Program Description
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Sister Alice Williams
Stella Resnick, Ph.D.
Help YourSelf
Tell Me More

Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.

home | program list | tell me more | links | reading list | who we are | how it began | talk to us | companion book | program videos

copyright 1998-1999, Beacon Productions, Inc. All rights reserved.