EVENT Ernie Haase & Signature Sound touched a chord with the audience with gospel music

Ernie Haase is a giant of southern gospel music, but too humble to display the fact. The American tenor’s humility came to the fore mid-way through a Madras Musical Association concert at The Music Academy, when he stepped aside to let a singer three decades his junior take the spotlight.

Ernie Haase & Signature Sound (EHSS) had cast a spell on their audience when Haase stopped to invite Colet Selwyn for a solo performance. Introducing the young Indian, who lives in Glasgow, Scotland, Haase said, “Here’s what your country has made. You can’t be prepared for what you will see.” The 18-year-old Selwyn gave an incredible performance, singing ‘Happy Rhythm In My Soul’ in his addictive bass voice. Not just his soul, his feet also had rhythm — he threw in the perfect moonwalk. Selwyn was a brief interlude in an evening that belonged to Haase and the rest of the quartet, Devin Mcglamery (lead), Doug Anderson (baritone) and Ian Owens (bass). Lit with interactive and colourful focus lights, the stage was all theirs. Veering away from all traditional notions of worship, the four capered, laughed and made funny faces as they sang their songs. Haase locked eyes with the audience, and engaged in conversation with a bunch of children who shook their legs and put together a show of their own. When Ian raised his booming voice while singing ‘Mexico’ — written by an 82-year-old lady, inspired by the sight of a beautiful little Spanish church — Haase pulled the bass singer’s tie and sang, “Quit showing off!”

While presenting ‘Moving Up To Glory Land’, the quartet swept the rest of the team — bass guitarist David Griffith, drummer Zak Shumate, guitarist Kelly Vaughan and keyboardist Wayne Huan — into the song, getting each of them to individually sing “Move! Move!” Each found his own funny way of singing the line, sending the listeners into tizzies of laughter.

Amidst the convergence of worship and good-natured fun, a social cause was being promoted. The concert was a fund-raiser for Help A Child of India, a not-for-profit organisation that reaches education, better health and vocational training to poor and marginalised children. After performing ‘I Believe’, a song with gripping lines, Haase spoke about ‘Help A Child of India’ and its mission to help children.