The Origin Of God's Choir
Some of the faces have changed since the Mississippi Mass Choir first recorded in October 1988, at Thalia Mara Hall in Jackson, MS, but the music ministry of “Serving God Through Song” remains consistent and persistent. The award-winning, internationally acclaimed gospel choir is still on a mission to draw souls closer to Christ.
Founded by the late Frank Williams, a well-known songwriter, gospel singer and record company executive, the choir developed out of obedience to a God inspired directive to form a mass choir based in Frank’s home state. He first contacted David Curry, Sr., a friend and minister of music working in churches in Jackson, MS. They then reached out to Jerry Smith, a piano prodigy also working as a minister of music at local churches. The three men proceeded to recruit singers with talents familiar to them. Finally, additional voices were attracted in response to announcements for open auditions broadcast on radio stations across the state. Messages about the recording opportunity also spread through word of mouth.
By May 1988, approximately 150 voices consisting of teenagers, senior citizens and every age group in between came together to form the group affectionately known as God’s choir. The diverse membership represented a multitude of professions – nurses, police officers, teachers, truckers, and factory workers. They also joined forces from a variety of Christian churches, working together on one accord united by the belief in one Lord, one faith and one baptism (Ephesians 4:5).
Success came quickly to the novice recording artist. The self-titled debut project remained in the No. 1 slot on the Billboard Magazine music charts for 45 consecutive weeks, setting a record for a recording in any music genre and prompting the magazine to give the choir a special achievement award. This is just one of many prestigious awards the choir has received.
During a ministry spanning more than three decades, the choir has recorded no fewer than 10 successful projects, including guest appearances on recordings by the Jackson Southernaires, the late Rev. James Moore, and Evangelist Dorothy Norwood. The music ministry has afforded the members opportunities to go into all the world and share the gospel (Mark 16:15). Their travels have included song services at the Acropolis in Greece in 1995 and a special appearance for Pope John Paul II while singing in the Umbria Jazz Gospel and Soul Easter Festival in Terni, Italy in 1997. The choir also has been featured on multiple programs in Japan, Spain, and South Africa.
Founder Frank Williams died in March 1993, less than five years after the birth of the choir. Though saddened and sometimes singing with heavy hearts, the choir managed to continue on the legacy of Frank through his protégé, Pastor Jerry Mannery, at the helm as executive director. In 2017, the Mississippi Mass Choir was presented with the Lifetime Achievement Award by the esteemed Stellar Gospel Music Academy.