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US Gospel Tour 2014

Douglas Singers, Chicago.

Bookings are now open for our 8th USA Gospel Tour, August-September 2014

 Experience the passion and depth of the black gospel tradition — join musical director Tony Backhouse to sing in black churches and on quartet programs, attend choir rehearsals, music festivals and workshops with local music ministers and singers. 18 days of rich gospel music and soul food in Memphis, Chicago and New Orleans. Sing with (and to) a Baptist congregation in Memphis, attend a quartet workshop, visit a huge church in Chicago, and get uplifted at the Holy Ghost HQ in New Orleans! Participate in workshops with music ministers and singers from the most dynamic singing tradition on the planet, and then join them afterwards for fried chicken, macaroni cheese and mustard greens.... 

   The US Gospel Tour 2014 is for all of you who want to not only experience the African American church but want to participate in it. We will form a choir and sing at numerous events (on previous tours the group sang at a neighbourhood festival in Chicago, on TV in Memphis, at a gospel music festival in Memphis, at a quartet anniversary in Chicago, at a concert in New Orleans and in numerous church services, workshops and rehearsals) — however, singing is voluntary and non singers are welcome. There are no auditions, and the tour is open to anyone who wants a deeper understanding of the black gospel tradition.
    Once you have signed up, you will be given access to the tour wiki, where you can find detailed information about our destinations, travel tips, and scores and recordings of the repertoire we plan to sing. If his itinerary permits, Tony will meet up with participants before the tour. He will also be available via Skype to answer questions or help with songs.

    Tony says: ‘I believe this is a wonderful opportunity for anyone excited by African American musical traditions to explore the world of black gospel in some depth, and as a participant rather than as an observer. I've been visiting black churches on and off for 25 years and the experience of being in the midst of such celebration, commitment and energy never fails to blow my mind. I feel privileged to have made friends from the tradition who have welcomed me into their worship services, rehearsals, anniversaries and homes, and their generosity has always extended to the visitors I bring into their world.’

For Tony’s report on the last Gospel Tours in 2009 and 2012, check the blog archives.

Draft itinerary:

Meet in LA Thursday August 28th (where we'll stay in a hotel for one night):
- welcome drinks and snacks
- first rehearsal.
Fly to Memphis Friday 29th Aug for six nights: 
- attend Memphis Music & Heritage Festival
- sing at Saturday night gospel concert, 
- church service on Sunday at Bethlehem BC
- workshop with Moments of Joy (female quartet)
- attend choir rehearsal at big church (CMC or Boulevard)
- visit Civil Rights Museum at Lorraine Motel

Fly to Chicago Thursday 4th Sept for five nights:
- attend choir rehearsal at huge church
- seminar with prominent musicologist
- workshop with choir director from huge church
- workshop with Douglas Singers (female quartet and band)
- Sunday: two churches

Fly to New Orleans Tuesday 9 Sept for six nights:
- workshop with musical directors of Ebenezer Baptist Church
- attend choir rehearsal
- sing at a 'gospel musical' night at Ebenezet BC
- Sunday: two churches

The tour ends on Mon 15th Sept: fly back to LA

AUD 6200.
This includes all internal flights LAX-LAX, ground transport (from LA onwards), hotel accommodation, breakfasts, workshops and certain other group activities, scores and MP3s of repertoire and regular rehearsals and training with Tony while on tour.
It does not include international flights or food (other than breakfasts).

For Booking Forms click here, (this a PDF; please fill in and email to
For our Terms and Conditions click here (this must be printed out and mailed to us; the address is on the form).
For more information contact Tony and Marianne at École de Fromage:

What previous participants have said: 
'I think I am likely to run out of superlatives in my attempts to describe 
the 2012 Gospel Tour that you and Marianne conducted. It was life-changing 
in so many ways but particularly in my understanding of African-American 
music and Gospel music on particular. The tour was flawlessly run. 
It was the best holiday I have ever had. I can't thank you both enough for 
the experience and I'd do it again 
in a heart-beat!'
(Sue Sweetman, NZ)

'The 2012 Gospel Tour was the best thing I have  ever done in my life so far and I will be going on the next one as well. There was amazing music everywhere we went but it was more than music, it was a Afro American experience as much as we can have one. Don't remember meeting many pakeha people, The Civil Rights Museum in Memphis had most of us in tears and I could have listened all day to the wonderful lecturer from a Chicago university who talked to us about gospel, barbershop, the blues. When we visited the churches we were always invited to sing on our own and with the congregation. They were always blown away that we were not a choir, had not sung together before and sounded so good. Tony and Marianne are very clever, enthusiastic and organise a really interesting tour to places we could not get to on our own.' (Sally James,NZ)

'Thanks Tony, for this rich and deep slice of African American life which we
were welcomed into, thanks to your connections. I came home totally
energised, and when I listen to my recordings, I'm right back there. Loved
it that we got church in such wide variety, concerts, choir rehearsals,
festivals, workshops on top of that... and time in between to relax and
absorb the flavour of three very different cities. A perfectly conceived and
organised tour. Can't wait for the next one!'
(Fiona Walker,NZ)
Here's a snippet from the 2012 Gospel Tour (thanks Amber):