Motown and Soul Christmas Concert in aid of The Haven + London
(St Giles’s Church, 8th December 2016. Report by Sebastian Scotney)
A musical evening of countless entrances and exits needs a pivot, a guiding presence, a generous genius, and a totally solid pair of hands. And last night’s Motown and Soul Christmas Concert in aid of The Haven + London had one. Morris Joseph “Mo” Pleasure, born Hartford Connecticut 1962, and an alumnus of Ray Charles, Earth Wind and Fire, Michael Jackson, directed a hugely complex evening, had supervised all the arrangments, partly MC’d the eveing, directed a band with string and horn sections and a gospel choir, and did it all with panache, and an unshaking commitment to support the evening’s good cause. It was a deeply impressive tour de force.
He explains the reasons why he supports the Haven + initiative in this video:
The Haven + London is an initiative of the Diocese of London to “preserve and nurture the spiritual, emotional, and tangible wellbeing” of creative people, and is open to Christians and non-Christians alike. It is led by Brazilian-born Londoner Rev Peterson Feital, who is the first ‘Missioner to the Creative Industries’. The theme alluded to by numerous speakers was the fragility of creative people, and the role the church can have in reaching out to them. St. Giles in the Fields is a fine, Palladian-style building from the 1730’s designed by Henry Flitcroft, also known as the Poets’ Church.
Each of singers had the luxury, the solid bedrock of a suitable arrangement. So when country singer Katy Hurt stepped out for All I Want for Christmas is You, she had a wonderfully lively kicking backbeat to work against. Upstaging everyone for charm was Peterson Feital’s seven-year old daughter Beatriz. Other singers making positive impressions were Melissa James , a singer actively supporting mental health causes, who charmed with This Christmas, Aubrey Logan with a powerful God Rest Ye Merry Gentlemen, and a highly musical part-African American, part -French part-Cherokee part-Blackfoot soul singer Ivy Chanel. On the quieter side there was Dan Olsen, an impressive singer-songwriter from the Faroe Islands (there can’t be many of those…). In the band, my ears were caught by the suave, solid bass playing of Josh Bergson.