Getting Gospel in NYC: A guide to the best gospel choirs
Featured destinations: North America
Published 30 March 2016
New York is home to some incredible gospel music, and as a tourist in the city there is plenty of opportunity to hear a gospel choir live, without forking out for one of the guided tours. However with so much choice, in can be difficult to know where to go to find a choir that is tourist friendly and authentic, so in today’s post we give you our guide to the best spots in the city…
Times Square Church
Address: 237 West 51st St. New York, NY 10019
Nearest Metro Stop: 50 St
Arguably the most conveniently located, the Times Square Church can be found in a renovated Broadway theatre right in the heart of Manhattan. Directed by Gregory Thomas, the 140 strong Adult Praise Choir is made up of people from all walks of life and over 30 different nationalities including nurses, students and business professionals who have all come together to perform and worship. A great thing about this choir is that they minister in a mid week service at 7pm on Tuesdays along with the Sunday services at 10am and 6pm, meaning you can still get the chance to see a choir even if your time in New York City doesn’t happen to fall over a weekend.
First Corinthian Baptist Church
Address: 1912 Adam Clayton Powell Jr Blvd, New York, NY 10026
Nearest Metro Stop: 116 St
If you would like to see a choir that has brought itself firmly into the 21st century, then the choir at the First Corinthian Baptist Church could be the perfect choice for you. Not only do they have their own Facebook, Twitter and Instagram page but they also have an online experience where you can watch the services live. There is also arguably no church at which tourists will get a warmer reception as they have their own dedicated part of the service where the congregation thank them for visiting. First Corinthian has three Sunday morning services to choose from; 7.30am, 9.30am and 11.30am. If you want to avoid the crowds then get there for the early morning service. Located just on the borders of Manhattan and Harlem, the church is also 5 minutes walk from the north part of Central Park, so why not team your gospel experience with a nice Sunday morning walk around the greenest part of the city.
Brooklyn Tabernacle Church
Address: The Brooklyn Tabernacle, 17 Smith Street, Brooklyn, NY 11201
Nearest Metro Stop: Jay St
The Brooklyn Tabernacle is viewed by many as the best choir in the city, and it is easy to see why, with the 280-voice choir winning five Dove Awards and six Grammys. Although the choir was formed over 40 years ago, it is in recent years that they have enjoyed their global success, which was highlighted by them being asked to perform at the Presidential Inauguration in 2013. The church can be found in downtown Brooklyn, a short walk away from the Brooklyn Bridge, and similar to the First Corinthian Baptist Church, the Brooklyn Tabernacle choir only minister in Sunday services at either 9am, 12pm or 3pm - It is best to check before you visit the exact time which they will minister as they often alternate with the Brooklyn Tabernacle singers.
It is important to remember that these choirs are performing as part of a religious service, so be respectful and look up any visitor information before you go – they will often have pages with advice on their websites. It is also good to double-check the service times online a few days before you are due to go as they may change. The services will normally be over two hours long, so leave yourself enough time to stay for the duration, as it will be considered disrespectful to leave halfway through.
Have you ever heard a gospel choir perform? Where are your favourite spots in the world to see them?