ABOUT CHICAGO MASS CHOIR
JAMES C. CHAMBERS
Founder of Chicago Mass Choir in 1988.
As a young teen, James C. Chambers became director of the Radio Choir and later organized the youth choir at the Haven of Rest M.B. Church. Church, however, was not the only place where his gift was realized. In 1971, under the guidance of his music instructor at Chicago Vocational School, he crossed denomination barriers and organized the Ecclesiastes Community Choir.
This choir was nourished by James and the Lord for more than 20 years, and Ecclesiastes Community Choir flourished into one of the country's finest singing aggregations. In July 1988, James' greatest vision became reality when the Ecclesiastes Community Choir Music Workshop commenced at the Adult Continuing Education Department of Kennedy-King College. Its purpose was to enhance the performance quality and music administration of gospel music and to unite this city's choirs, community organizations, musicians, songwriters, and soloists. During that first workshop in 1988, James founded the Chicago Mass Choir. The Gospel community responded positively: In 1991 Chicago Mass was nominated in five categories for the Gospel Music Excellence awards and was named Best New Artist. In 1992, the Chicago Mass recording "I Can Go to the Rock" was the winner of Song of the Year.
In 1994, the ECC Music Workshop/Chicago Mass Choir torch was passed to Dr. Feranda Williamson, who had been a founding member and featured soloist of the Ecclesiastes Community Choir, and a longtime colleague and close friend of the group's beloved founder. Since that time, Dr. Williamson has led the group to record 17 albums, take multiple European tours, perform at the American Bar Association's annual meeting featuring Attorney General Loretta Lynch as well as appear on television programming as diverse as Bobby Jones Gospel, singing with Elmo on PBS and singing at a Chicago Bulls game.
DR. FERANDA WILLIAMSON
With the soulful force of a traditional gospel choir and a heart filled with Praise & Worship, the Chicago Mass Choir® has thrilled audiences around the globe with its penetrating vocals, dynamic musicianship, and stirring messages of hope and encouragement.
The Chicago Mass Choir has had no less than sixteen albums reach the Billboard gospel charts. It has garnered two Grammy, three Dove, and more than ten Stellar Award nominations. In 2012 and 2015, the Chicago Music Awards named it the city’s Best Traditional Choir. The group has appeared on several television programs, including BET’s Bobby Jones Gospel, Windy City Live and the Allstate Gospel Super Fest. In 2003, the choir sang “Pressing On” for the Grammy-nominated album, Gotta Serve Somebody: The Gospel Songs of Bob Dylan.
“Life changing” is an apt way to describe the Chicago Mass Choir, because it is not only a singing group, it’s also a giving group. Throughout the year, the choir sings at nursing homes and volunteers at local nonprofits. The choir has contributed to worthwhile causes, such as the AIDS Foundation of Chicago, the American Red Cross Haiti Relief Fund, the Avon Walk for Breast Cancer, LUPUS Foundation, and The Olive Branch Homeless Mission. Each year, the choir adopts a local public school kindergarten class and provides the children with school supplies.
In the summer of 2017, Chicago Mass Choir completed a three-city tour of Texas (Dallas, Houston and Austin); which included a concert in Houston, Texas to support families that were impacted by Hurricane Harvey. Chicago Mass Choir provided a displaced family with a $1,000 donation to assist with their recovery from Hurricane Harvey.
The 16th recorded project of the Chicago Mass Choir entitled We Give You Praise was released in September 2016 and co-produced by Percy Gray Jr, and Jeral Gray, Sr. on New Haven Records. We Give You Praise charted in the Top 25 for Gospel Billboard. The choir received final nominations in two categories for the 2016 Dove Awards and is the recipient of the 2017 Stellar Awards for Traditional Choir of the Year. Chicago Mass Choir is committed to giving their reasonable service for the gifts that God has allowed them to share through their ministry of gospel music.