3 Places to See an Inspiring Harlem Gospel Choir in New York

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Have you ever wondered what makes the Harlem Gospel Choir in New York a must-experience for travelers seeking culture?

There’s no need to wonder anymore. Come and be part of this spiritual experience and get your praise on!

Immerse yourself in the rich cultural tapestry of Harlem by attending a soul-stirring gospel choir performance at one of the area’s historic churches.

The Uplifting Gospel Experience

I’ve attended a few gospel brunches, concerts, and musicals like Handel’s Messiah, Godspell, and Jesus Christ Superstar. But nothing is more engaging and soul transforming than a gospel concert!

The performances are lively, and participants are a combinations of travelers and members of the congregation.

Harlem, like many African American neighborhoods, are deeply religious.

woman with eyes closed in worship

TL;DR Check prices for the Harlem Gospel Choir

The choir explodes onto the stage in a blaze of energy and praise and encourages you to lift your voice with them.

Hands clap, feet stomp, bodies sway in euphoric rhythm. The lead singer’s powerful voice soars above the thunderous choir, rasping with gritty soul one moment, sailing up into an impassioned falsetto the next.

You’ll be surrounded with shouts of “Amen!” and “Yes, Lord!” echoing through the room.

I wouldn’t say that you’ll see people turning back flips down the aisle as in the Blues Brothers movie. But you can expect the same high energy.

The praise concert is about 60 minutes. It may seem like a long time, but when the spirit is moving through the crowd with song after song, the hour will pass quickly.

If you’re visiting New York, a lively Harlem gospel choir performance should be on your must-do list.

Things to Know Before You Go

Church Attire

The concert is held mid-week on Wednesdays and does not include a church service (or sermon).

Wear suitable clothing. Normally, shorts, bare shoulders, flip-flops, and see-through apparel are considered inappropriate. Dress comfortably, but be respectful of the church and dress modestly by avoiding overly casual or revealing attire and footwear.

Early arrival will give you more choices of seating. I remember getting there about 15 minutes before the start time to settle in.

If you are with a tour group, the line for seating at a Harlem gospel choir performance stretches outside the entrance and around the block. However, the wait is not very long.

The Origins of Gospel Music

minister in a churc

Gospel music has its roots in the spiritual songs and traditions brought to America by Africans in the 17th and 18th centuries.

These early spiritual songs, known as “sorrow songs,” were a way for Africans to express their hardships, hopes, and faith through coded lyrics and melodies.

After the abolition, these songs evolved into quartets and choirs that performed in churches and traveling shows.

Ten Most Famous Gospel Songs

Gospel music have evolved in the last 40 years. The tempo has become more upbeat, and you can hear chords from secular music that was repurposed for contemporary Gospel.

Kirk Franklin’s “Stomp” is a great example of blending modern musical styles like hip-hop, R&B, and pop with gospel lyrics.

However, the songs that have had the most famous and influence are still widely recognized and played.

“Amazing Grace” (John Newton)
“Take My Hand, Precious Lord” (Thomas A. Dorsey)
“Go Down Moses” (Spiritual)
“Oh Happy Day” (Edwin Hawkins)
“His Eye Is on the Sparrow” (Civilla D. Martin, Charles H. Gabriel)
“When the Saints Go Marching In” (Spiritual)
“Mary Don’t You Weep” (Spiritual)
“I’ll Fly Away” (Albert E. Brumley)
“Move On Up a Little Higher” (Mahalia Jackson)
“The Storm Is Passing Over” (Charles A. Tindley)

The World-Famous Harlem Gospel Choir

πŸ“131 W. 3rd St

The world-famous Harlem Gospel Choir often performs at the Blue Note Jazz Club in the heart of Harlem, New York City.

While Harlem is famous for its jazz heritage, gospel choirs are equally celebrated for keeping this musical tradition alive.

The choir has been a beloved fixture in the Harlem community for decades, drawing audiences from all over New York City and beyond.

Where to Hear the Gospel in Harlem

facade of historic St. Johns Church in Harlem
St. Martin’s Episcopal Church

Although the Harlem Gospel Choir event itself does not feature a sermon, there are numerous churches in the Harlem neighborhood that offer incredible opportunities to experience uplifting gospel music as well as a gospel message.

In keeping with standard practice, attending a service at these churches is free and open to all, without any admission fees.

Tourists flock to Harlem to witness the world-famous gospel choirs that have made the area a mecca for this soulful music genre.

Here are the best and most historic churches to hear the gospel in Harlem. And because it is off the beaten path, you likely won’t see these landmarks on a New York tour bus.

First Corinthian Baptist Church

πŸ“1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd

The Corinthian Baptist Church is one of the iconic churches in Harlem where you can experience authentic gospel music from a renowned choir.

The talented members of a Harlem gospel choir is a must for travelers seeking to capture the essence of this community.

Abyssinian Baptist Church

πŸ“132 Odell Clark Pl, New York

One of the most historic and renowned churches in Harlem, the Abyssinian Baptist Church has been a cultural hub since the early 1900s. Their gospel choir performances during Sunday services are powerful and moving.

Many tour groups include a stop at a Harlem church to witness the powerful voices and infectious energy of a gospel choir performance.

Mother AME Zion Church

πŸ“140 W 137th St #6, New York

The Mother African Methodist Episcopal Zion Church has rich roots dating back to 1796. Attending a service here allows you to hear the soul-stirring harmonies of their legendary gospel choir.

Final Thoughts about the Harlem Gospel Choir in New York

Going to a gospel event, whether it’s hearing a choir or listening to a sermon, is a spiritual experience.

It’s a chance to express yourself, connect with your spirit, connect with God, and connect with the community.

Obviously, people worship in different ways, but when you believe in and practice spirituality, you can sense that the songs and expressions are genuine.

The gospel choir or a gospel tour in Harlem is an introduction to the spirit of this African American way of life.

We are all spiritual beings having a human experience. I hope this post will encourage you to embrace your spiritual journey while exploring the world.

Safe travels.

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