Serving God Through Song” is the motto and the mission of The Mississippi Mass Choir. Although striving to succeed in the gospel music industry, the choir’s purpose is to help establish the gospel of Jesus Christ throughout the world. Since its formation in 1988, the choir has won numerous honors and awards for its contributions to gospel music. The group has traveled throughout the United States, toured Japan and appeared in Nassau, the Bahamas.
After wrestling with the idea of forming a mass choir, Frank Williams, a member of The Jackson Southernaires and an executive in the gospel music division of Malaco Records, decided to form The Mississippi Mass Choir. First, he got the record company’s support. Then he began calling on Mississippi talents like David R. Curry Jr., who became the choir’s music director. Having the foundation laid, open auditions were held and more than 100 voices from across the state came together to form The Mississippi Mass Choir. After months of rehearsals, the choir recorded their first album and video The Mississippi Mass Choir Live on October 29, 1988.
In the spring of 1989, five weeks after their debut album was released, Billboard magazine certified it as the Number 1 Spiritual album in the country. The album stayed on the Billboard charts for a consecutive 45 weeks, setting a new record for gospel recordings. At the 9th annual James Cleveland GMWA Awards, the Mississippi Mass won the Choir of the Year-Contemporary, and Best New Artist of the Year-Traditional. They also walked away with four Stellar Awards in 1989 and nominated in several categories for the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards and Dove Awards.
The choir’s next project God Gets The Glory, in 1990, debuted on the Billboard chart in the Number 16 position, reaching Number 1 position two weeks later. Awards followed with the release of the album. One of the most treasured albums released by the choir was the one on January 1993; It Remains To Be Seen. It maintained the Number 1 position for twelve months. The special part of the album is that it contains the last recorded performance of the choir’s founder, Frank Williams, who died on March 22, 1993.
Three albums were released since Williams’ passing, I’ll See You in Rapture, Praise the Lord, and Emmanuel (God With Us). Jerry Mannery, Executive Director of the choir, states, “We are all about our Father’s business. We are not entertainers, we are ministers for Christ. Our mission remains constant; to serve the Lord and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
In preparation for their ninth recording, the choir held their first new member audition in over five years. One hundred new voices from throughout Mississippi were added to the roster to increase the membership to 250. According to Minister of Music Jerry Smith, “New members are the lifeblood of a choir.”
The choir has ministered in song in over 40 states within the USA, including Alaska. They have traveled to Japan, Italy, Spain, Bahamas, and Greece; becoming the first gospel group to perform at the Acropolis. While attending the Umbria Jazz Gospel and Soul Easter Festival in Terni, Italy, the choir was invited to sing for Pope John Paul II at his summer residence.
The Mississippi Mass Choir is now featured in the popular Mississippi, Believe It! campaign.
The Mississippi Mass Choir recorded their 9th album and live recording for their 20th Anniversary in June 19, 2009 before 4500 people at the First Baptist Church Jackson
The Mississippi Mass Choir released their 9th Live album “Then Sings My Soul” on February 1, 2011.
In 2009 The Mississippi Mass Choir celebrated its 20th year anniversary with the release of “The First Twenty Year” a compilation DVD and CD of songs recorded over the years, and interviews with choir members.
In 2010 at the 25th year anniversary of The Stellar Gospel Music Awards The Mississippi Mass Choir was honored with the Thomas Dorsey Notable Achievement Award.
On December 8–26, 2010 the choir made a fourteen city tour of Spain and the Canary Islands. According to concert promoter Luis Manjarres, “Since their first Spanish tour, Mississippi Mass Choir has become a classic of the European and the Spanish Christmas. They will showcase their talent in the main venues of Barcelona, Madrid, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Pamplona, Gijon, and Vigo. This tour of fourteen concerts will culminate on Christmas night, in the wonderful city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife at the Canary Islands, in a very special event with the 92 piece Tenerife Symphonic Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Lu Jia. Mississippi Mass Choir will be the first African American choir to perform with a European Symphonic Orchestra before an audience of 20,000. It is the time for Mississippi Mass Choir…It is the time for Classic Gospel.”
In October of 2013 The Mississippi Mass Choir commemorate their 25th year Anniversary by recording their 10th “LIVE” album in front of a sold out crowd in Jackson, MS. On April 11th the choir released their new single “God’s On Your Side” featuring Sunday Best Winner Le Andria Johnson and Stan Jones.
Declaration of Dependence will be released in late May of 2014. The choir the begin a 10 city tour and 13 cities Spain tour.