Marcus Mosely wants to get one thing out of the way.
The Marcus Mosely Ensemble might perform gospel music—along with R&B, jazz, and even a few Beatles and Bob Dylan songs—but that music is for everyone.
“We’re cast as a gospel group, but we’re not evangelical,” he says. “We’re not trying to convert anybody. We love the musical form. I draw it from my background having grown up during the civil rights era. We sang gospel designed to sing about social issues and compassion.”
In short, “It’s about spirit; it’s about joy, love, humanity, and good music,” he adds.
Mosely, who lives in North Vancouver, has performed in various groups over his long, accomplished career. Recently, he had the final concert of The Marcus Mosely Chorale, which included about 70 singers and spanned a decade.
Now, the 70-year-old BC Entertainment Hall of Fame inductee is focusing on the ensemble—which features 12 people—and his solo work.
“We had the final concert for my choir—the chorale—back in May,” he says. “It was just time to do that. I wanted to slow down a little bit and take some of the work off my team’s shoulders. It’s much easier to wrangle 12 people than 70, especially if you want to make little trips here and there touring—like coming up to Whistler—it’s much more challenging bringing 70 than 12.”
The ensemble has performed a handful of shows since pandemic lockdowns lifted, but during that time, Mosely found a new way to use his voice.
“I got this phone call from someone who did an animated series for children, for preschool kids, called ABC with Kenny G,” Mosely says.
The Canadian show features a cat named Kensington—voiced by Mosely—who performs music at the Milk and Cookies jazz club.
“They asked me to audition for it, and I got the job,” he says. “I did two seasons of it … One day I’d go in and sing a calypso song. The next day country, and the next day jazz. The next day something else. It was quite a range. The musical director had quite an imagination. I was nominated for a Leo award for that industry for animated voicing. I didn’t win, but I was nominated. It was a nice introduction to the voiceover world.”
Now back on stage, Mosely is looking forward to a performance in Whistler on Sunday, Feb. 26, with the ensemble, featuring gospel songs celebrating Black History Month, as part of the Arts Whistler Live! performance series.
“It’s going to be a good time and hopefully an inspiring time,” he says. “If we’re very lucky, there will be a little bit of healing people will feel. They’ll hear something musically or through the music that offers some comfort or healing. Some people are still carrying hurt or the sense of isolation or loneliness. By being in a group together and hearing music, maybe it can be comforting or healing as well.”
Catch the Marcus Mosely Ensemble at the Maury Young Arts Centre on Sunday, Feb. 26 at 2:30 p.m. Tickets are available at showpass.com/aw-live-mme.