Philadelphia gospel choir heads to LA for national competition

PHILADELPHIA - November 1, 2013

Members of the Saint Thomas Gospel Choir are looking forward to representing Philadelphia in Verizon's "How Sweet the Sound" National Competition Saturday night in Los Angeles.

On October 3rd, they had no expectations as they participated in the preliminaries at Radio City Music Hall in New York.

"We were just excited that we had the privilege of being in the building itself," said Lynne Galloway.

And they never expected to take the top $10,000 prize in New York.

"Even a couple of weeks later, we were still saying, 'We actually won!' We couldn't believe it," said Daryn Stewart.

Thursday night was the choir's final rehearsal at the African Episcopal Church of St. Thomas in Overbrook Farms.

Founded in 1792, it was the first black Episcopal Church in the nation.

The choir was formed more than two decades ago, but Clare Daniels, an original choir member, says their choir director had good reason for concern, when he first heard the group sing.

"He just shook his head and said, 'Oh my God, my work is cut out for me,' because we were not singers," said Clare Mae Daniels.

Clare is the mother of celebrated movie director, Lee Daniels, who also sang in church before The Butler.

"He sang with the Boys' Choir at an early age," said Clare Daniels.

But choir director, Walter Blocker never gave up on Lee's mom or the rest of the choral group.

"I was blessed with the gift of being able to pull things out of people that they didn't know they had," said Blocker.

The 58 choir members left for Los Angeles Friday morning, again with no expectations, but for one reason… "To put out His Word through song," said Daniels.

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