On the evening of June 15, the rhythms and vocals of The Mighty Starlites of Nyack will open this year’s Tappan Community Concert Series with the lively sounds of Gospel Music. The Mighty Starlites began their journey in 1981, singing praises in the local churches and organizations in Rockland County and parts of New Jersey. The Nyack Branch N.A.A.C.P. recognized The Mighty Starlites for their community service and volunteer efforts. The current group members, Garland Townsend (drums and tenor vocals), Shawn Whatley (bass vocals), Darius Whatley (baritone), Justin Footman (keyboards and tenor vocals), Demetrius Adams (tenor vocals), Steve Cox (bass guitar) and Bro. Isaiah Whatley, the leader of the group, made their concert debut in September 2011.
Anthem music, later called “spiritual” and much later “gospel” music, is a distinctly American music yet with ties to Africa. The predominant style, brought to America during the slavery period from the early 1600s to 1865, is the “call and response” pattern in which a leader sings a line and the entire group answers. Many of the idioms of today’s popular music can be traced to gospel music. The development of gospel music, from the “holler” or work songs to gospel choirs in many African-American churches has influenced the blues and jazz, and, in turn, these forms have influenced gospel.
Now in its second year, the Tappan Community Concert Series is collaboration by three non-profit organizations: the Tappantown Historical Society, the Tappan Library, and the Tappan Reformed Church. The concerts are free although donations will be welcome, and each concert will be followed by a reception and opportunity to meet the musicians after the concert. Saturday, June 15 at 8 p.m. – The Mighty Starlites of Nyack present a Concert of Gospel Music in the historic Tappan Reformed Church, 35 Kings Highway Tappan NY 10983. Info: 359-1923.