musings from boston

screams, whispers and songs from planet earth

Month: May 2019

Mangum & Company *Shouts* the Lord’s Praises

Mangum & Company - photo by J. Stoller

Mangum & Company – photo by J. Stoller

In Psalm 150 of the Bible, it says “Praise him with the sound of the trumpet.” Gospel brass shout band Mangum & Company, led by trombonist Cedric Mangum, does exactly that, and not just with a trumpet but a full-on honkin’ brass band. The musicians represent many of Charlotte, North Carolina’s United House of Prayer congregations.

These “trombone choirs” are a sacred musical tradition, and it’s truly a joyful noise that they create. The church was founded by Cape Verde spiritual leader Marcelino Manoel da Gra├ža (a.k.a. Daddy Grace) in Wareham, Massachusetts in 1919, focused on the ecstatic experience in worship. Their all-day, all-night services were propelled by the jazz instrumentation of the time, set to traditional gospel hymns. Trombones lead the way with a central melody, with others going off on roof-raising solos. This tradition continues in more than 130 United House of Prayer congregations across the U.S.

The shout band was first introduced in Charlotte, North Carolina in 1926 and huge parades with marching bands became commonplace in the religious and cultural life of the city. There are currently almost 20 shout band ensembles statewide. Cedric Mangum began playing music early and learned all the instruments before becoming lead trombonist. At age 13, he was already leading his band, the Charlotte Mother House’s legendary Bailey Clouds of Heaven, which he still helms today. As he explains, “Our music feeds the soul,” he says. “It’s designed for the soul, and that’s what draws the people.”


Trombone Shout Band, Charlotte, NC – by HistorySouth

united house of prayer for all people | national folk festival

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Nurture

nourish

You nurtured us,
and now I nurture your memory.
In this memory I try to hold
you are young and full of vibrancy and hope
like in that photograph
I keep on my fireplace mantle.
You and dad on your wedding day,
cutting the cake that celebrates
your first day together.

The folded frame holds two photos.
In the other, you are together still,
so happy, so in love, yet older.
Bodies not as supple, bending over with the weight of the world
and from life’s difficult truths, discovered.
But your commitment so much stronger, and so sure.
Resilient against all odds.

On your wedding day in 1957
you didn’t know the darkness you would have to endure together,
as one struggled with depression
and both struggled with pain from the past.

But you faced it together.
And when I was born,
we faced it as a family
and we were stronger because of it.

We nurtured each other, through the years,
feeding each other with the emotional nourishment
we all needed to feel safe and satiated.

In the early days, you cooked for the three of us, and I helped.
We were well fed and taken care of.
But then, sometimes, it wasn’t just about preparing satisfying meals.
Proper nourishment became more complicated,
and we didn’t always know what the other needed —
And especially, what you needed, Mom.

You, the family caretaker, needed special care
that only your loving family could give.
Dad and I, in time, learned how to nurture.
After all, we learned from the best.

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