Glebe Music Festival
In conjunction with The Glebe Society Inc
The Cafe of the Gate of Salvation
Selections from their repertoire
The Cafe of the Gate of Salvation is an a cappella choir inspired by African-American religious vocal traditions - gospels and spirituals, the passionate, committed and exciting music of political and spiritual freedom. This unusual aggregation of souls first collected in 1986, after singer and composer Tony Backhouse put up a notice in a few cafes, asking if anyone was interested in singing Black gospel material. The first rehearsals were held in his lounge and their first public performance saw the group busking on a street corner in downtown Sydney. Since then the choir has performed almost continually, appearing at Womadelaide, Horizons and other prestigious festivals, for Nelson Mandela's visit, in clubs, churches, hotels and at many benefits and fund-raising events.
The Cafe has performed live on TV (ABC Compass and arts programmes, Ray Martin and Bert Newton shows) and radio many times, and Jane Campion used five of the choir's original songs on the soundtrack of her feature "Sweetie". A non-profit association, the choir regularly donates money to causes - including encouraging the recognition of Black gospel singers, by giving money to groups and associations in the USA.
In 1991, the choir recorded their first CD, all of the songs on which were written and arranged by members of the Cafe. The self-titled CD subsequently gained recognition from the Contemporary A Cappella Society of America who gave the choir three runner-up places in their 1993 Contemporary A Cappella Recording Awards - for Best Album, Best Song ('Don't Wait for Sunday") and Best Soloist (Tony Backhouse).
The Cafe of the Gate of Salvation currently numbers 35 members, some of whom have sung with the choir since its inception. Equally comfortable in a funky nightclub, church or formal classical music venue, the choir appeals to everyone, no matter what their musical or religious preferences. Several of the choir members have sung professionally in bands and the strength of ther soloing provides another element that distinguishes the Cafe from other Sydney choirs.
Tony Backhouse, whose passion is Black gospel
and other sacred vocal music, has made two trips to the USA to research
Black gospel traditions, studying at Memphis State University and visiting
churches, concerts and rehearsals in New York, Chicago and throughout
the South, sometimes himself singing in services and programmes. Other
members, notably alto Judy Backhouse, have also spent time in the States
following the same pursuits.