I don’t do what I do to get a reaction from an audience. It’s never my intention to build a concert on the premise of what I think will sell out, and I don’t generally program for the masses because it often results in mindless entertainment. I think most about what we need to accomplish with regard to our mission, which is to deliver a high-quality product that affirms who we are. Such was the case with Shaken, Not Heard.
Yet, I cannot put into words the powerful reception the concert received this past weekend. I have never seen people leap to their feet eight bars before a piece was finished. I haven’t seen anyone stand in a church pew and wave her arms since my Freewill Baptist days. In short, I didn’t know it was possible for an audience to take away even more than we believed we were bringing to them.
Sure, we wanted to affect people with our stories. The damage that organized religion continues to inflict on us is tremendous and people need to see the curtain pulled back on the issue. But to see how ready people were to receive this piece was overwhelming. Take a look at our home page for quotes, including one that says we have redefined the oratorio. One audience member has even written a poem in response to our performance. I’ve never gotten so many e-mails from members or audience members after a series of concerts.
At our panel discussions following the performances — each of which were attended by nearly 100 people — I was asked what the future holds for this piece. I can safely say that Shaken, Not Heard will have a life beyond April 26 and that you can expect to see encore performances in the weeks and months (years?) to come. Three other Atlanta churches have already invited us, and loose invitations have been issued from Macon to Miami. People are ready to hear this.
My hope is that we will not only continue to empower our own people, but also that parents, friends, pastors, or anyone who may continue to use misguided belief systems against us will see this issue from our perspective. David’s story is everyone’s story.