London Community Gospel Choir - remarkable three decades

Over the years they have performed alongside Madonna, Sting, James Brown, Sir Elton John, George Michael, Sir Paul McCartney, Diana Ross and Mariah Carey to name just a few.

Famously they were flown out to Italy to sing at Wayne Rooney and Coleen McLoughlin’s wedding. On a more sombre note, they were also asked to perform at the funeral of reality star Jade Goody.

It’s been a remarkable three decades as the London Community Gospel Choir celebrate their 30th anniversary with a tour which brings them to Horsham’s Capitol on Saturday, September 22 at 7.30pm.

Founder Bazil Meade set the benchmark in the 80s and became one of the most revered Gospel leaders in the United Kingdom and Europe. It’s been quite some journey – and all rather against the odds.

As Bazil says, things were very different back in the early 80s when the choir first came to life.

“We weren’t expected to last. It was a bit of a controversial thing back then. I was inviting different churches and different denominations along, and that was unheard of at the time. People thought that I was trying to start a new church and that I was trying to poach their young people, but nothing could have been further from that.

“We were training these young people and enhancing them and their music and they were becoming better singers and then going back into their own churches. But some ministers could not see that vision. They banned some young people from coming to us. If they taught at Sunday school, that was taken away from them. But that just shows how much things have changed since then. Some of them were dis-fellowshipped by their churches, but I think today there is so much more collaboration between the churches.”

And so acceptance came. As people moved on from the choir, they took with them the skills they had honed – and everyone benefitted.

“There were moments (of doubt), but they didn’t last long,” Bazil says. “I am a driven man and I still am. It came to the point where I felt that this was what I was designed for. I didn’t come with the tools or the knowledge but I have learnt what to do, and my heart and my passion have been at the core of what I have done.”

At the time Bazil was repairing industrial motors for a living: “I was in a filthy overalls and covered in grease and the smell of varnish. It was a very technical job. I had to varnish and insulate them and bake them in the oven.

“I was newly married and I just got to the point where my mind was no longer in it. I was creating songs in my head. I just decided that I could not do this anymore and I just walked out of the job. I didn’t tell my wife for a while!

“But she stood by me. We were young and quite foolish and still quite adventurous! But she was working and we survived on that for a while.”

And then the choir started to take off…

Tickets on 01403 750220 or www.thecapitolhorsham.com