The Mississippi Mass Choir
After wrestling with the idea of forming a mass choir, Frank Williams, a member of The Jackson Southernaires and an executive in the gospel music division of Malaco Records, decided to form The Mississippi Mass Choir. First, he got the record company's support. Then, he began calling on Mississippi talents like David R. Curry Jr., who became the choir's music director. Having the foundation laid, open auditions were held and more than 100 voices from across the state came together to form The Mississippi Mass Choir. After months of rehearsals, the choir recorded their first album and video The Mississippi Mass Choir live on October 29, 1988.
In the spring of 1989, five weeks after their debut album was released, Billboard magazine certified it as the Number 1 Spiritual album in the country. The album stayed on the Billboard charts for a consecutive 45 weeks, setting a new record for gospel recordings. At the 9th annual James Cleveland GMWA Awards, the Mississippi Mass won the Choir of the Year-Contemporary, and Best New Artist of the Year-Traditional. They also walked away with four Stellar Awards in 1989 and were nominated in several categories for the 1989 Soul Train Music Awards and Dove Awards.
The choir's next project, God Gets The Glory, in 1990, debuted on the Billboard chart in the Number 16 position, reaching Number 1 position two weeks later. Awards followed with the release of the album. One of the most treasured albums released by the choir was the one in January 1993; It Remains To Be Seen. It maintained the Number 1 position for twelve months. The special part of the album is that it contains the last recorded performance of the choir's founder, Frank Williams, who died on March 22, 1993.
Three albums were released since Williams' death, I'll See You in Rapture, Praise the Lord, and Emmanuel (God With Us). Jerry Mannery, Executive Director of the choir, states, “We are all about our Father’s business. We are not entertainers, we are ministers for Christ. Our mission remains constant; to serve the Lord and spread the Gospel of Jesus Christ.”
The choir has ministered in song in over 40 states within the US, including Alaska. They have traveled to Japan, Italy, Spain, Bahamas, and Greece; becoming the first gospel group to perform at the Acropolis. While attending the Umbria Jazz Gospel and Soul Easter Festival in Terni, Italy, the choir was invited to sing for Pope John Paul II at his summer residence.
The Mississippi Mass Choir recorded their ninth album and live recording for their 20th Anniversary on June 19, 2009 before 4500 people at the First Baptist Church Jackson
The Mississippi Mass Choir released their ninth live album, Then Sings My Soul, on February 1, 2011.
In 2009 The Mississippi Mass Choir celebrated its 20th anniversary with the release of The First Twenty Years, a compilation DVD and CD of songs recorded over the years, and interviews with choir members.
On December 8–26, 2010, the choir made a fourteen city tour of Spain and the Canary Islands. According to concert promoter Luis Manjarres, “Since their first Spanish tour, Mississippi Mass Choir has become a classic of the European and the Spanish Christmas. They will showcase their talent in the main venues of Barcelona, Madrid, San Sebastian, Bilbao, Pamplona, Gijon, and Vigo. This tour of fourteen concerts will culminate on Christmas night, in the wonderful city of Santa Cruz de Tenerife at the Canary Islands, in a very special event with the 92 piece Tenerife Symphonic Orchestra, under the direction of Maestro Lu Jia. Mississippi Mass Choir will be the first African American choir to perform with a European Symphonic Orchestra before an audience of 20,000. It is the time for Mississippi Mass Choir…It is the time for Classic Gospel.”
In October 2013, The Mississippi Mass Choir commemorate their 25th anniversary by recording their 10th "LIVE" album in front of a sold out crown in Jackson, MS. On April 11, 2014, the choir released their new single "God's On Your Side" featuring Sunday Best Winner Le'Andria Johnson and Stan Jones. The album was released in June 2014. The choir the begin a 10 city tour and 13 cities Spain tour.
The Stellar Award-winning Mississippi Mass Choir is slated to join the ICAN Foundation in South Africa for the 2011 National Youth Day Celebration. The choir will present various concerts around the country during their visit. This tour will be the choir's first visit to the African continent.
On Wednesday January 11, 2017, the choir was featured on an episode of ABC's Show Black.ish.
On Sunday October 7, 2018 The award-winning Mississippi Mass Choir appeared on Discovery Channel's #1 series “Expedition Unknown.” The episode entitled “Search For The Afterlife – Heaven and Hell,” explores religions and cultures from around the world.
March 25, 2017 Stellar Award Honor Hall Of Fame
January, 2000 Mississippi Music Museum Hall of Fame
1999 Grammy Award Grammy Nomination
9th Annual James Cleveland Gospel Music Workshop of America Excellence Awards Choir of The Year, Contemporary
Best New Artist of the Year
1997 Grammy Award Best Gospel Album by a Choir or Chorus, "I'll See You in the Rapture"
1997 Stellar Awards Choir of the Year," I'll See You in the Rapture" Traditional Choir of the Year, "I'll See You in the Rapture"
1994 National Association of Record Merchandiser (NARM) Best Sellers Award
1994 Stellar Awards,Traditional Choir of the Year,Traditional Album of the Year
1994 Dove Award Nomination Contemporary Black Gospel Recorded Song of the Year, "Your Grace and Mercy" from It Remains to be Seen
1994 Soul Train Music Award,Best Gospel Artist
1994 Billboard Magazine,Gospel Artist of the Year
1994 3M Corporation, Innovation Award
1994 Indie Award Best Selling Gospel Album, "It Remains to be Seen"
1994 Indie Award,Best Selling Gospel Album, "God Gets the Glory"
1993 National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM) Best Sellers Award
1992 Billboard Magazine, Gospel Artist of the Year
1992 Billboard Magazine Gospel Record of the Year, "God Gets the Glory"
1992 3M Corporation, Innovation Award
1992 Stellar Awards, Traditional Choir of the Year Choir of the Year
1992 Stellar Nominations, Album of the YearVideo of the Year
1991 Billboard, Album of the Year "Rev.James Moore, Live with the Mississippi Mass Choir"
1991 National Association of Record Merchandisers (NARM) Best Sellers Award
1991 Indie Award Best Selling Gospel Album, "The Mississippi Mass Choir, Live!"
1990 Billboard Special Achievement Award Recognizing debut album at #1, 45 consecutive weeks.
1990 Billboard Magazine Gospel Record of the Year, "The Mississippi Mass Choir Live!"
1990 Stellar Award Album of the Year, "I'm Yours Lord"
1990 Billboard Magazine Gospel Artist of the Year
1989 Stellar Awards Choir of the Year Album of the Year, Best New Artist, Best Gospel Video
1989 Stellar Nomination Song of the Year, "Near the Cross"