It's the spirit of the music that's most important
IF theatres want to save on chair wear and tear, they might want to book the London Community Gospel Choir.
At an LCGC show, no member of the audience is expected to use his or her seat too much.
"We build up into a celebratory series of songs where we expect to get the audience up on their feet clapping and having fun and being uplifted through the songs they're hearing," said Bazil Meade, the choir's leader.
"We are not a choir who enjoys the clapping at the end of every song. We want clapping during the songs.
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"We can be quite unpredictable. Sometimes you find the conductor will run into the audience and put the mic in somebody's face, have them sing."
The gospel music tradition is known for injecting passion into audience members, who become part of the show.
LCGC are pioneers of this music in Britain, and the show they bring to Nottingham Playhouse is meant to display the 31-year trip they've taken.
"It's a show that we've designed to make an attempt to give an idea of the journey of the London Community Gospel Choir," Bazil said. "We perform some of the songs we would have performed in the early 80s when we first began."
Today LCGC are massive and the list of top stars they've performed with is formidable. It includes Paul McCartney, Elton John and Madonna, just to name a few.
"It is massive," Bazil said of the pop work. "The most recent was Kylie Minogue last year at the Proms in the Park. There must have been 50,000 people in Hyde Park."
It wasn't always that way. When the choir first formed in 1982, there were no celebrity friends, and within the church community, there was controversy.
According to Bazil, gospel music in Britain was performed in black churches led by elders who did not want music taken out of church. Outside the black church community, gospel music was thought of as strictly an American thing.
"In America, those artists are on stage wherever and they put on their music with whatever else," Bazil said, adding that in the UK it's considered "ungodly" to be on stage with secular musicians.
Bazil saw a different way.
"The ethos of the choir is about taking gospel music out of the confines of the black community, which is where it was prior to the 1980s."
And that's what he's done. The LCGC has performed on television, on stages in front of tens of thousands – and in prisons. They take the music to anywhere that will have it.
"It's fabulous because that's where I feel the music needs to be," he said.
Churchgoers, non-Christians, people of no faith, he welcomes all.
"Let's put aside all the segregation," he said. "I'm holy and I can't sit in the same building and enjoy the same music? That's segregation, that's rubbish. We certainly don't come over as a holy roller group when we're on stage. We are artists.
"The spirit of the music – that's what's important."
The London Community Gospel Choir plays Nottingham Playhouse on Thursday at 8pm. Tickets are £15 to £17.50. Call the box office on 0115 941 9419 or go to nottinghamplayhouse.co.uk or call in person at the Playhouse box office.