By LaKeshia N. Myers
Growing up in the Baptist Church, hearing the music of gospel quartets is just as normal as celebrating Christmas. The songs, most often sung by male choirs, are rich in four part harmonies and often tell stories of overcoming adversity, hope and salvation. According to Colin Palmer, gospel music researcher and contributor to the Encyclopedia of African American History and Culture, “Gospel quartets sing in harmony in four voices, with parts assigned to a tenor, or highest part. ; lead, which usually takes the melody; baritone, which mixes sounds and adds richness; and the bass, or lower part. It is not uncommon for some quartets to switch parts between members for given songs ”(Palmer, 2006).
I was reminded of this tradition last week when I learned of the passing of Lee Williams, a legendary quartet singer and frontman of the Mississippi-based band the Spiritual QC (Qualified Christian Singers). Lee Williams and the Spiritual QC are arguably one of the most successful quartet groups of all time, filling churches to capacity and touring the country extensively for over 40 years. Upon hearing of Williams’ passing, I immediately asked Alexa (my trusty Amazon device) to play one of my favorite Spiritual QC’s songs called “Steal My Joy”. The chorus says it all: “I refuse; I won’t let anyone steal my joy.
This simple but deep exclamation summed up last week’s drama perfectly. As America closed the chapter of the 20-Year War in Afghanistan, we could do so, knowing that we had done what was necessary to defend our country after being attacked on American soil. Although the outing may have posed logistical challenges, it has been completed. For those tasked with ensuring the safe passage of Afghan refugees and Americans, they have done a far-reaching job, which cannot be ignored, no matter what political thinkers or civilians who did neither served nor been in a war zone may have to say.
The state of Texas, whose Republican-controlled legislature passed voter suppression and reproductive freedom legislation last week. They too will not steal my joy from me. I have no doubts that members of Congress will do what is necessary to protect all of America and will not allow those blinded by disinformation, untruths or biased religious dogmas to go unchecked. I must stand firm in my belief that doing what is fair will always win.
Listening to “Steal My Joy” I remember that “joy” is both a gift and a choice. I believe this is God’s way of correcting us and looking at things in a positive, proactive way. What can we do to make the change we want to see happen? What are we doing to be good stewards of what we have? These are questions we can ask ourselves when we feel like situations and individuals are wearing us out. I don’t know about you, but I refuse; I won’t let anyone steal my joy.