CDEC Festival was a quality experience. Despite the extra work and rush that it produced on Saturday, this was a very positive experience for the music team.
Sarah and I both felt very much at home at this festival because it reminded us of the kind of events that we participated in with NCF Chattanooga. It was a community festival in the heart of an African American neighborhood under the leadership of local politicians, small businesses and churches. There were rented rides and games, barbeque, and free health screenings.
When we pulled up, there was a group singing “The Presence of the Lord Is Here” by Kurt Carr. I had put that on our list of upcoming songs, and so I felt affirmed that this was a song that would be relevant to African American Christians in the inner city. We showed up at the time we were scheduled to play, but there was still two acts that had to play before us. It was nice to hear other the groups, and to have my team members there to have an experience of cultural immersion.
When we got up to play, we had a rocky start as we adjusted to the poor sound and cramped space. But, our second tune “In the Sanctuary” was well received and it helped to create a bridge with the people there who were very familiar with that tune. However, the big hit of the afternoon for us was when we performed “Wamilele Mungu,” a Swahili song. The Lamosis had come to hear us (they were only there because David and Sara Taylor happened to be hosting them for the day and David was playing the drums). As we played the song, the Lamosis who were several yards from the stage began dancing. The other people began to pick up on their energy and a man escorted them right up to the front of the stage. After we played, many people paid us compliments about our group, and all of them said something about that African song.
The response of the team members who were there was restrained optimism. Several commented that this event confirmed the need for our church to have an established performance group who would be prepared to play events like this one on short notice. I felt like it confirmed the need for our church to have a group to perform specifically African music.
It was a good weekend for the NCF music team.