We present you a new member of the team of the Gospel Weekend!
Ray Sidney comes from Los Angeles, California, and despite he travels all over the world teaching gospel music, what impressed us more, among of his energy and great talent, was his humble and close character, his ability to make everyone feel welcome. The participants of his workshop in March 3rd in Calella could live it in first person, and many of them asked us to bring him to the Gospel Weekend too…. and he said yes!
Do you want to know more about Ray? In this short interview you can have a better look at his life experience with the Gospel:
1) When and where did you start in the Gospel music world?
Ray: I have been singing in gospel choirs since 7 years old at my church in Los Angeles, CA. at the New Hope Baptist Church. My mother would take me with her to choir rehearsal and I would sit and just listen to the ladies singing. Pretty soon I knew all the songs and would sing along with them.
2) What moved you to start giving workshops and masterclasses?
Ray: It’s my calling from God to teach gospel music all over the world. He prepared me because it is a process and gave me the opportunity to share the good news gospel through song to all that will listen. People from all different walks of life are attracted this style of music for many reasons so not just Christians but mostly non- Christians and through the fellowship this also allows me to share what and who the music is talking about.
3) Tell us a gospel song that means something special for you, and why.
Ray: The most recognized song all over the world….Amazing Grace! It’s special to me because it lets me know that no matter who i am or what I’ve done, God’s amazing grace is always there to comfort and encourage me.
4) What fills you more, work with the spirituals and classic Gospel or experiment with the new Gospel music of the 21st century?
Ray: I’m kind of in the middle of the road. I’m able to utilize both forms of gospel in the workshops I teach. I’ve always felt it’s hard to really appreciate the contemporary without knowing the classics! I was brought up on Anthems, Spirituals and traditional gospel songs. Yes, we actually had sheet music and were taught to follow the notes. Also at my church we only had piano and organ but when I became the choir director at age 19 the pastor allowed me to add a bass player and drums in an effort to bring the contemporary gospel sounds. From an early age I followed the principles, “less it’s anointed it’s just a bunch of noise.” Believe me when I say, I can make a bunch of noise but I all I do want God to anoint my praise offering.
5) Who are your Gospel composers of reference?
Ray: Jester Hairston, Thomas Dorsey are my foundational gospel influences and Kirk Franklin, Richard Smallwood, Hezekiah Walker, John P. See and Fred Hammond are my contemporary references.
6) A gospel conductor that you admire.
Ray: Eddie James is a contemporary conductor that I’ve always loved his music ministry but when I got a chance to meet and work with him at the Feast of Tabernacles in Jerusalem, Israel I truly saw how passionate he was for the gospel. He has a powerful youth ministry in the US as well.
7) What brings the Gospel music to your life?
Ray: The definition for “gospel” means good news so as a believer and a follower of Christ I receive and also desire to share that good news for everyone. God prepared me and called me to go into the world but He didn’t say only if there is a certain number of people. So that could be an audience of one or a thousand and one. He just said go be a blessing!