This dispatch from First Presbyterian Church:
Where I Am is the latest album release from the choir of First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn, NY and only the second to be made widely available. Featuring notables from the worlds of Broadway, NYC cabaret, and the fine arts alike, the collection draws on diverse musical traditions – from traditional and contemporary gospel, to African American spiritual, world music, folk, jazz, and Broadway. The choir hopes to guide its listeners through the full range of the human experience and its search for connection to God and to be a part of a better world.
Produced by theater vet Chris Neuner, with award-winning arts educator Amy Neuner as musical director, Where I Am speaks to the listener on many levels. The record showcases the vocal talents of Broadway staple Mykal Kilgore and noted soloist Bertilla Baker, among others. From the title track, sung by Jami Jackson, about her struggles to get to where she wants to be and her gratitude for finally finding herself, fully there, to the ensemble piece, I Need You to Survive, featuring everyone’s voice in solo phrases, each one distinct with the wounds and balms of life, no voice or experience is left out. Even the city (New York? New Jerusalem? Your neighborhood?) and your capacity to change it for the better is embraced in the evocative Beautiful City and With My Own Two Hands.
Since 1986, when First Presbyterian Church of Brooklyn shed its traditional approach and embraced a vision of an intentionally multicultural and inclusive church, it has drawn in a lively and diverse congregation and friends like the Dalai Lama, Ambassador Andrew Young, the late civil rights lawyer, Derrick Bell, Engine 205/Hook and Ladder 118, first responders to 9/11 tragedy. The choir has been under the direction of Amy Neuner since her appointment by Pastor Emeritus Paul Smith in 2001.