Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir Founded And Directed By Trevor W. Payne, C. M.
The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir, under the direction of Trevor W. Payne, have in the past decade evolved into what is now considered to be one of the world's finest choirs.
It was in 1982 that Trevor Payne, a native of Barbados, started, with Daisy Peterson Sweeney (sister of Oscar Peterson), what is now the MJGC. It was to be a one-time event: the choir was to perform as part of the 75th Anniversary of Union United Church in Montréal. The concert featured guests Oliver Jones, Ranee Lee and Charles Biddle. The concert was a smash, and the group, needless to say, hasn't stopped singing!
The choir's first record, Highway To Heaven, was recorded live and released in 1986 by Justin Time Records. Licensed in Europe to ENJA Records, it has sold over 10,000 copies in Europe alone. In the same year the choir was awarded the "Out-standing Recording Artist Award" from the Association Of Gospel Music Ministries.
The choir's sophomore album, Jubilation II, was released in 1988 to unanimous acclaim, and the choir supported that record by touring in Germany, in the U.S. and throughout Canada. The third recording, Jubilation III: Glory Train, (1990) was the choir's first studio recording, marked its first JUNO Award nomination and was the first of its three records to be released in the U.S. In the same year, the MJGC was asked, along with the Bulgarian Women's Chorus ( of "Le Mystère des Voix Bulgares" fame) to contribute one track to the three-CD box set, Voices, an award-winning compilation of the world's best choral music.
The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir has performed for various heads of state, including Nelson Mandela during his 1989 visit to Canada, and Queen Elizabeth II. They have performed with, among others, Foreigner, New Kids On The Block and Michael Bolton. They have shared the stage with superstar Celine Dion and have performed for the opening portion of her sold out Montreal performances in 1996.
The choir entered the studio in April, 1992, to start work on what was to become the A Cappella recording, (Jubilation IV), which was released in November of that year, to coincide with their seven-city tour of Germany. While there, the choir took part in the recording of Klaus König's oratorio, Song Of Songs, which was also performed live in several cities, including Berlin. This work is scored for two solo voices, gospel choir and jazz orchestra, and the compact disc of this great work was released in Canada by Justin Time in June of 1993.
The choir's next recording, Joy To The World - Jubilation V, was originally intended to be a Christmas record, but it is definitely one that can be enjoyed all year round. It featured such tracks as "Geographical Fugue for Speaking Chorus" and their version of "Amazing Grace" proved the choir to be at the top of its power. Indeed, as Canada's music business trade, The Record, stated in their review, "The Choir has now moved well beyond their original black roots. This is, in fact, more of a choral "world music" album. This recording was awarded a JUNO Award in the best blues or gospel album of 1995 category.
Jubilation VI: "Looking Back" released November, 1994 is a comprehensive musical portrait, spanning the choir's 20 year history, from 1974, when they were known as the Montreal Black Community Youth Choir, right up to their release, Joy To The World. It was painstakingly remastered, and features previously unavailable studio alternate versions, in addition to rousing live tracks. The 44-page booklet that accompanies this special 2-CD package features liner notes in English, French, Spanish and German (the choir's recordings are distributed internationally).
The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir's Hamba Ekhaya (Goin' Home)/ Jubilation VII dated 1997 is their first recording of new material since 1993's Joy To The World. It was recorded live at St-James United Church in Montreal during the anticipated annual Gospel Celebration. Living up to his previous promise of bringing the music of Africa to snowy Montreal, Trevor Payne and his choir with the help of very special guest Phuzekhemisi, offer us here traditional music of Africa (including South Africa's national anthem), some of Phuzekhemisi's songs as well as a few gospel favourites.
With the dawning of the new millennium, the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir has expanded its horizons to include appearances and collaborations with icons in the classical music field including the Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra and I Musici of Montreal. Jubilation VIII - A Cappella Plus is a superb follow-up to the Choir's Jubilation IV A Cappella; on this recording, the 35-member Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir employs 13 instrumentalists as well. The sound of A Cappella Plus is rendered more eclectic by some unusual instrumental accompaniments: for example, Martin Luther's "A Mighty Fortress Is Our God" features a saxophone quartet, while "Great Day" is accompanied by a street band in the New Orleans tradition, while Beethoven's "Hail Mary" features a bassoonist and African kora among other instruments.
With the release of Jubilation IX: Goin' Up Yonder, Dr. Payne introduces to the world his latest musical gem: Revelation III. This stunning vocal trio (Serena Voltaire, Samantha Hinds and Janique Montreuil) became the centrepiece of the MJGC's present incarnation. Revelation III's primary influence is gospel's legendary Barrett Sisters, who debuted in 1962, but whose roots trace back to Chicago in the '40s. Once again, the Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir brings into being classical gospel music at its finest.
Jubilation X - I'll Take You There is the Choir's 10th recording. Dr. Payne, the Choir's founder and director, has dedicated this offering to some of the musicians that helped shape his career: Ray Charles, Cannonball Adderley, the Staple Singers, Curtis Mayfield and Jimi Hendrix. The Choir are joined by Dave Turner (who provides the 'Cannonball' touch), the legendary Fontella Bass (taking on the Staples' legacy) as well as guitar virtuoso Frank Marino.