The Montreal Jubilation Gospel Choir (MJGC), founded and directed by Trevor W. Payne, gave its first performance in 1982 at St James United Church, in Montreal. The choir's first members were drawn primarily from the Montreal Black Community Youth Choir (1974-81). This earlier incarnation was founded by Rev Frank Gabourel, Daisy Peterson Sweeney, and Trevor Payne to commemorate the 75th anniversary of Union United Church, Montreal's oldest black community church - with whom the Jubilation Choir remained affiliated until 1985.
MJGC performs in an annual gospel celebration in Montreal. It has given performances across Canada, the US and Europe, and has been featured with such Canadian performers as Oliver Jones, Martine St-Clair and Céline Dion, and American recording artists such as New Kids on the Block, Ray Charles and Salome Bey. MJGC has performed at Montreal's International Jazz Festival, the Stratford Festival, and Toronto's Harbourfront and International Choral Festival. It has participated in annual fund-raising events for a variety of Canadian organizations, such as Aubèrge Madeleine, Education Plus, Share the Warmth Foundation, and the Lamplighter's Children's Leukemia-Cancer Foundation.
Repertoire and Recordings
MJGC has recorded nine discs, several of which have won prestigious awards. Included among these is a 1995 Juno award for Jubilation V: Joy to the World. The Association of Gospel Music Ministries named the choir its outstanding recording artist in 1987, and best choral ensemble in 1989, when it also won for best gospel album. It was also named vocal group of the year by Jazz Report, 1993-5.
The choir's repertoire focuses on gospel music, both traditional and contemporary, some of which has been retained from MJGC's earlier incarnation as the Montreal Black Community Youth Choir (MBCYC). Pieces such as "Changed," "Goin' Up Yonder," Geographical Fugue for Speaking Chorus, "Oh, Mary Don't You Weep," "The Storm is Passing Over," "How I Got Over," "To the Glory of God," "In That Morning," "Swing Low, Sweet Chariot," "Soon Ah Will Be Done," "Joshua Fit the Battle of Jericho," "Plenty Good Room," and "O Happy Day" were first recorded by MBCYC and remain present in MJGC's recordings. To this core repertoire, MJGC has added a mix of music ranging from Gregorian chant to Bach chorales, a modern jazz oratorio, and traditional Zulu music.