TGS: There’s a lot of great things happening with the Chicago Mass Choir. For the past eleven years, you served as an unofficial ambassador for gospel music, touring Canada and Eastern and Western Europe several times. Talk about touring and what it means to the choir.
Dr. Feranda Williamson: It has truly been a humbly experience to have been given the opportunity to travel abroad and share our gospel music ministry. The people love traditional gospel music and are so appreciative of us spreading the good news of gospel music. We have been blessed to sing to sold out audiences; as we traveled throughout both Eastern and Western Europe. Although some people that attend our concerts do not speak English, it is amazing how they feel our spirit. Several people have shared that our music reaches their heart. Our first concert tour to Switzerland, enabled me to take over 50 singers to experience being out of the country. I will always remember that trip because we all experienced visiting countries that we only imagined.
TGS: Recently, you completed a 17-city tour of Spain. Describe the Gospel music culture and the tour.
Dr. Feranda Williamson: Yes, 17 cities in three weeks. We toured both northern and southern Spain. It was great to experience large metropolitan cities; as well as the small rural towns. Spain is a beautiful country and very proud of its heritage. Several small cities have buildings that are over 100 years old. The concert halls were magnificent. To tour 17 cities within a 3 week period required us to be very focused with proper rest. We love the people of Spain. They would always clap and shout during the concerts and had a great time giving God the praises.
TGS: This year, you had the opportunity to sing the national anthem during a Chicago Bulls game. Describe the moment and experience.
Dr. Feranda Williamson: UNBELIEVABLE! To be on the center court looking at over 20,000 plus people in the stands was an awesome experience. The sound system was phenomenal and the response to our singing from the crowd was a thunderous applauds. We were a little nervous, but when we started to sing, the nervousness left and we just did what God blessed us to do–sing. What an honor to be chosen to sing the national anthem for the Chicago Bulls. The staff was very professional and appreciated our participation. I look forward to returning to the United Center to support the Chicago Bulls.
TGS: What was the moment like on BET’s Bobby Jones 2016 Finale show?
Dr. Feranda Williamson: Dr. Bobby Jones has given so many gospel artist the opportunity for national exposure on a major TV network. We have appeared on prior shows, but this one was special because we were among the nation’s top gospel artists; as well as the only choir that was selected to be a part of the finale. At the end of our song, the audience was so supportive and we continued to sing acapella. I was surprised that the acapella was allowed to be on the show, but it truly showed the versatility of the choir and the power; even without the music
TGS: Congratulations on your latest Dove Award nominations. Talk about the nominations and categories for the choir.
Dr. Feranda Williamson: On Oct. 11, I will be attending the Dove Awards to represent Chicago Mass Choir. To be nominated in two categories (Traditional CD and Traditional Song) is truly an honor. It is an honor that we don’t take lightly. We give God the honor and praise for the recognition. It is just great to be honored for your work by your peers in the gospel music industry.
TGS: What’s next for the Chicago Mass Choir?
Dr. Feranda Williamson: Although, we focus on community service, our goal is to continue to reach outside the walls of the “church” to share the good news of gospel music. We have sung with several rock bands and for special events (outside of the traditional church venue). My prayer is that we are given opportunities to share our music ministry in venues that perhaps are not exposed to gospel music. It would truly be great to partner with an international mission for ministry in the third world countries.