The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away.
A standard misquote from the first chapter of the Book of Job.
Dec.3rd 2017, Dr. Trevor Payne’s final appearance as head of The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir left no room for misquotes. Perfection was perceived by everyone with the possible exception of Dr. Payne himself. Perfection never obtained by the artists themselves.
For thirty – five years ( officially ), the good doctor has guided the Gospel Choir to unimaginable heights ( performing for Nelson Mandela ) and equally unimaginable anxieties. The choir was his child. His offspring . His legacy. His love. His life’s work. His calling.
Putting all the above aside to move on to different projects privately is difficult. Saying goodbye publicly is immense. Ensuring the final performance is not marred by emotions – inconceivable.
On stage , in rehearsals at Place des Arts, the emotions were in check. The run-through of vocals , music and timing as smooth as the top of Dr. Payne’s head. Good natured ribbing , laughter and smiles framed the always professional choir as they focused on the task at hand. The ‘well oiled’ machine almost didn’t need Dr. Payne. The ‘well oiled’ machine is Dr. Payne. The machine is – ‘ well oiled ‘.
One by one , the choir and musicians take turn performing as part of a sound. Each person listening attentively to the words of Dr. Payne. Not often and not irrationally do the instructions flow. Calmly the music is stopped and the singing is hushed. Like a Father lovingly teaching – Dr. Payne repairs or introduces observations to make the choir the best they can be.
‘People may teach what they know, but they reproduce who they are’. – John.C.Maxwell
As each of the soldiers of God ( soloists ) took turns rehearsing , Payne conducted but mostly exuded admiration toward his pupils. Hugs were given either before , during and after each performance. Rehearsals give the opportunity where ‘the show’ does not.
Sharon Othello ( Highway to Heaven Medley ), Genevieve Bikond Nkoma ( He’s a Shelter ), Mary Manon Meresier ( Joyful, Joyful) and Janique Montreuil ( Changed ) – a few of the members embracing the musings and admiration from Dr. Trevor Payne.
Soundchecks can be a difficult affair for the most seasoned performers. To be in tune , in sync and in ‘ motion ‘ – often requires the spirit to be as one. Larger groups of musicians can be more obscure at unity in the beginning of ‘ practice’. Not the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir.
Once the notes commence , with very few exceptions , does the engine stop. The train starts rolling and the conductor likes it that way. The battery shovels the coal. The guitars and horns provide the food. The choir are the whistles echoing across the valley signalling the Glory Train is strong.
Right before showtime , Dr. Trevor Payne was nervous. Former choir members from as far away as Spain in attendance. Memories present and counted for.
Adulations from Dr. Oliver Jones and Jazz Festival co – founder Andre Menard (among many ) greeting Payne onscreen in a video montage praising and congratulating the ‘ master ‘ on a career which is legendary. A career unmatched in the Montreal and perhaps global gospel community. Verbal imagery for a job not only well done – above and beyond what was necessary.
All the way from Deep River ( arr. Roy Ringwald) to the Calypso Christmas Medley ( arr. Dr. Trevor Payne ), the final performance under Dr. Payne was brilliant. Payne himself , displaying no signs of emotion except for talking about his Mom and Dad. His Father, explained Payne, carrying bags at Windsor Station to put food on the table , a roof over the head and enough money aside so Trevor could take piano lessons.
The Lord giveth and the Lord taketh away
Thank you Dr. Trevor Payne