to Joy: Why Your Attitude Matters
The Gospel of Sister Alice
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."
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.
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.
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."
Sarah Ban Breathnach
Sister Alice Williams
Stella Resnick, Ph.D.
Tell Me More
Body & Soul is currently airing Monday-Friday at 7:00pm and 8:30pm on PBS YOU.
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