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Town’s first Concert and Barbecue brings La Jolla faith communities together in friendship

Community members stand and link hands for a rendition of ‘We Shall Overcome’ Sept. 19 in the Fellowship Hall of La Jolla Presbyterian Church.
Community members stand and link hands for a rendition of ‘We Shall Overcome’ Sept. 19 in the Fellowship Hall of La Jolla Presbyterian Church.
/ Susan DeMaggio

La Jolla’s first Interfaith Concert & Barbecue drew about 200 people to La Jolla Presbyterian — and Prince Chapel By the Sea African Methodist Episcopal — churches Saturday, Sept. 19 to begin what may become a dialogue series on race. Event tickets at $25 raised $2,500 for Prince Chapel’s youth mentoring program and heating/AC repairs.

Activities got underway at 3 p.m. in the Presbyterian Church Fellowship Hall and despite the heat and high humidity, the “concert” by Angela Petty and the Remembrance Quartet was a cool icebreaker.

(From left) Pastors Paul Cunningham and Charles Norris join guests — locking arms and voices.
(From left) Pastors Paul Cunningham and Charles Norris join guests — locking arms and voices.
/ Susan DeMaggio

In full, luscious voice, Petty treated the audience to a musical history lesson, tracing the roots of the African-American “sound” to the rhythmic call-and-response field hollers that sustained those picking cotton, tobacco and sweet potatoes under the South’s sweltering sun.

“ ‘Wade in the Water’ was actually advice to runaway slaves to head for the water where tracking dogs couldn’t hunt them …. and ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ was information on how to use the Underground Railroad (the chariot) to head to the northern states and freedom (carry me home),” she told the crowd.

Petty performed two renditions of the hymn “Amazing Grace” — first as typically sung by congregants of European churches and second as a Negro spiritual — and though each differed in tone and expression, the human frailty behind both was universal.

Angela Petty is joined by Remembrance Quartet at La Jolla’s first interfaith concert and barbecue event, Sept. 19.
Angela Petty is joined by Remembrance Quartet at La Jolla's first interfaith concert and barbecue event, Sept. 19.
/ Susan DeMaggio

She was joined on stage by Remembrance Quartet for tunes that followed the black music experience to the Motown Sound, and their “Can I Get a Witness” had everyone’s toes tapping.

After welcoming attendees, Pastors Charles Norris of Prince Chapel and Paul Cunningham of La Jolla Presbyterian spoke of future gatherings where La Jolla’s various faith communities could come together and get to know one another. A barbecue followed at Prince Chapel with participants looking forward to the next one.