From college choirs to church choirs, Richard Smallwood’s famous piece “Total Praise” resonates with audiences around the world. Just recently, “Total Praise” was performed on the lawn of The White House by Washington’s Saint Augustine Church Choir for the historic visit of Pope Frances. Now, the famous choral selection will again take center stage during the installation of The Most Rev. Michael Curry as the first African-American Presiding Bishop of the Episcopal Church in the United States. Based in the Washington, D.C. Area, renowned musician Richard Smallwood is a proud alumnus of Howard University and continues to remain active in the music ministry of Metropolitan Baptist Church. Whether it is performed by a small choir or the melody of its familiar tune sung as a solo, the melodious nature of the song “Total Praise” is one that grabs the attention of the listener immediately. Smallwood is unable to attend the service due to prior commitments, but upon learning from the DC Performing Arts Examiner of the inclusion of his music for the special service, expressed his appreciation.
This year the marks the 20th year anniversary of the beloved choral selection. David Charles Griffiths who serves as Minister of Music at the historic Nineteenth Street Baptist Church in Washington reflected on the impact of “Total Praise” in his own ministry. “The beauty of Total Praise as with many of Mr. Smallwood’s songs is that it is a fusion of the best of the classical and the gospel tradition. It has lines-legato connected singing but then it has accents and drop offs. When I share it in a multi-cultural context it is extremely well received because it connects to a common tradition while extend beyond into what is indigenous to the black church tradition. It will be sung for centuries to come.”
The Gospel Choir of the African Episcopal Church of Saint Thomas of Philadelphia will render “Total Praise” after the reading of the Holy Gospel during the historic service. The choir is led by Waltier Blocker. Father Martini Shaw is the 17th rector of Saint Thomas, the nation’s first black Episcopal church in the United States.
Michael Bruce Curry was elected and confirmed as the 27th Presiding Bishop of The Episcopal Church at the 78th General Convention in Salt Lake City on June 27, 2015. He was previously elected as the 11th Bishop of the Episcopal Diocese of North Carolina on February 11, 2000. He was consecrated on June 17, 2000, in Duke Chapel on the campus of Duke University in Durham, North Carolina. The installation service will take place on Sunday, November 1, 2015 at Washington National Cathedral. Due to the high nature of attendance, the service is only open to those with previously distributed tickets.