“Jonah & the Wailers” – A Community based Acapella Choir in Sydney
Jonah & the Wailers are one of Sydney’s most established Acapella group choir. Directed by Ian Laurence. Influenced by African American gospel & related styles. You can find us in Manly (Northern Beaches), Leichhardt (Inner West), North Sydney.
An Acapella choir is singing without musical instruments. Originating from Italy, where, singing “a capella” meant singing “in the chapel”. In general, chapels were too small to incorporate musical instruments as well as singers. So, singing “in the chapel” became synonymous with “singing without musical instruments”
Our Acapella group choir has people from all walks of life, young and old. From all creeds and tribes singing together in harmony to create a sense of joy. We are a fun, vibrant and a welcoming community choir.
Jonah & the Wailers started in 1995. It’s a larger Acapella, SATB (soprano, alto, tenor, bass) choir. With a choice of 3 different rehearsal venues around Sydney. Most of our choir members come from Sydney’s Inner West, Northern Beaches and Northshore.
What is gospel?
The core music comes from the traditional African American gospel. This music reflects an immense spiritual strength. With the purpose to overcome adversity. Furthermore, to ignite love and community values. Over the last few years, Ian Laurence has diversified his arrangements. To include uplifting songs from any genre that moves him. Or, music recommended by choir members. Including genres that touch the humanity in us all.
How did gospel choirs start?
The movie “Sister Act” is a popular movie which involves gospel singing. And in particular, made the song “Oh Happy Day” popular.
Gospel churches in the United States are generally attended by predominantly African Americans. Gospel grew from “Message Songs”, around the time of the abolition of slavery.
African Americans in the south of the United States, wanted a life free from prejudice. Hence, were told that “when we sing this song in church. A message song”. “That this is the signal for you to go to the first “safe house” in your journey north”.
African Americans wanting to undertake this journey would travel by night, as it was safer. And this gradual drift north of African Americans became known as “the gospel train”. Hence Gospel choirs!
About our Acapella group choir
Many members have remained in the choir for over 10 years. Ian’s reliability and steadfastness have helped to foster this deep sense of community spirit and friendship.
If you love to sing we would love to hear from you! You don’t have to be able to read music. As music arrangements for our songs are often provided. The sooner we discard those pieces of paper and express our own feelings through song. The better!!
We have rehearsals in Manly (Northern Beaches) on Monday, Leichhardt (Inner West) on Tuesday and North Sydney on Wednesday during school term time.