Gospel Music

Sunday Matinee Gospel Music Series • Series Alumni • Music Recordings • Gospel Singing Workshops & Concerts • Concerts & Festival Events • Ken Whiteley’s Touring Gospel All Stars • Artist Bios

The Last Sunday Gospel Concert at the old Hugh’s Room

The next show!

At the end of March, 2002 with Colin Linden, Jackie Richardson, Melisa Devost and George Koller, I staged my very first Sunday Gospel Matinee concert at Hugh’s Room.  On March 22, 2020 in a couple of weeks, I will be hosting my last one on that stage with the dynamic Nikki D. Brown and the Sisters of Thunder from Toledo, Ohio.

My original idea was to capture some of the magic that I’d been a part of on the Sunday gospel workshops at many folk festivals.   With the encouragement of Holmes Hooke and Richard Carson (the founder of Hugh’s Room), I booked three shows with some of my favourite people to sing spiritual music with, including The Levy Sisters, David Wall, Pat Patrick, Ginny Hawker, Chris Whiteley and George Koller on bass. I recorded those first shows for what was to become my album “Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright!”.

This brings us to the upcoming show.  Nikki D. with her sister Gloria, cousin Tomika and nephew Christian are fantastic proponents of the Sacred Steel gospel tradition that includes past veterans of my Hugh’s Room Sunday shows such as the Campbell Brothers, Calvin Cooke and Lonnie “Big Ben” Bennett.  Nikki and her family played and sang on my brand new Borealis release Calm In The Eye Of The Storm. (You can hear them with me playing Moving Up The King’s Highway on my home page at www.kenwhiteley.com).

Since this is the last of over 80 Sunday Gospel Matinees, I’ve put out the word to some of my many special guests to come and join us so you can expect a surprise or two.  I’m sure it will be an emotional afternoon for me and I plan to channel those feelings into a stellar show.   I’ll have my new album, old friends, the energy of Nikki D. and the Sisters of Thunder alongside me and I hope some of you can make it to sing along in this celebration.

We all wish the Hugh’s Room Live team the best of luck finding a suitable new venue and more chances for all of us to make new memories. After 55 years as a professional musician and 18 years doing gospel music at Hugh’s Room, I have no intention of stopping now.  As an old gospel song says, “I believe I’ll run on and see what the end’s going to be”.     ~ Ken Whiteley

Gospel Music Series Alumni

Lance Anderson, Njacko Backo, The Barrel Boys (Kyle Kirkpatrick, Rob McLaren, Tim O’Reilly, Nathan Smith, Ben Wright), Lonnie “Big Ben” Bennett, Bucky Berger, Karen Michelle Bergmann, Gail Berry, Salome Bey, Diana Braithwaite, Alana Bridgewater, Danny Brooks, Nikki D. Brown & The Sisters of Thunder (Gloria Brown, Tomika Webb), Basia Bulat, Alphanso Burke Jr., Chuck Campbell, Rebecca Campbell, The Campbell Brothers, Linda Carvery, Aviva Chernick, Tristan Clark, Calvin Cooke, Grace Cooke, Andrew Craig, John T. Davis, Rosalyn Dennett, Melisa Devost, Kim Doolittle, Andrew Downing, Teresa Doyle, Nicole Edwards, Joan Elliott, Frank Evans, John Finley, Michael Fonfara, Galitcha (Chris MacLean & Kuljit Sodhi), Gathering Sparks (Eve Goldberg, Jane Lewis), Eve Goldberg, J.K. Gulley, Caitlin Hanford, Kim Harris, Reggie Harris, Mati Haskell, Ginny Hawker, Kevin Head, House of Doc, Jacob & Lily, Joe Jencks, Tabby Johnson, Rev. Robert B. Jones, Sister Bernice Jones, Hiram Joseph, George Koller, Penny Lang, Jani Lauzon, The Laws (Michele & John), The Fabulous Levy Sisters (Amoy Levy, Ciceal Levy), Colin Linden, Claire Lynch, Samantha Martin, John Mays, Ellen McIllwaine, Rob McLaren, Linda McRae, Geordie Millar, Jacob Moon, Linda Morrison, Gordon Mowat, Charlene Nafziger, Arnie Naiman, Helena Nash, Paul Novotny, Odetta, George Olliver, Marlene O’Neill, Ndidi Onukwulu, Original Sloth Band & The Honolulu Heartbreakers, Pat Patrick, Rhonelle Patrick, Dennis Pendrith, Fred Penner, Colina Phillips, Mighty Popo, Cheryl Prashker, Kathy Reid-Naiman, Betty Richardson, Jackie Richardson, Sharon Riley, Donné Roberts, Uncle Mike Rosteing, Mose Scarlett, Shakura S’Aida, Jane Sapp, Joel Schwartz, Joe Sealy, Jay Sewall, Jane Siberry, Tannis Slimmon, Jivaro Smith, The Sojourners (Marcus Mosely, Will Sanders, Khari McClelland), Soul Influence, Jeremiah Sparks, The Stacks (Tania Elizabeth & Andy Stack), Vicki St. Pierre, Dione Taylor, Len Udow, Suzie Vinnick, David Wall, Jackie Washington, Alastair Whitehead, Terry Wilkins, Michelle Willis, and a full compliment of Whiteleys ~ Ben, Chris, Dan, Jenny, Jesse and Ken.

Top Selling Recordings

Ken’s Incredible One-Day-Wonder Gospel Music Workshop & Concert Program

Ken loves to share his gospel singing workshop and concert program with choirs, congregations and singing groups both large and small. This program is for everyone who likes to sing and have fun.No choir experience is needed. It is for all ages, all voices. The one day workshop includes: (a) Gospel Workshop & Rehearsal with Ken and (b) Evening Concert Performance with YOU (The One-Day-Wonder Gospel Workshop Choir) and Ken. This program has run in welcoming communities of Newfoundland, Nova Scotia, Ontario, Alberta and British Columbia. Don’t miss this fabulous opportunity to sing in Ken Whiteley’s incredible Gospel Workshop Choir. Amaze yourself, your family and friends too!

For bookings and additional information contact: shari (at) kenwhiteley (dot) com

“Ken picked us up by the spirit and got us to sing … really sing! There was a lot of smiling going on, I can tell you!”

~ The Reverend Brian E. Pearson, Saint Stephen’s Anglican Church, Calgary

“Emmanuel Howard Park United Church is always happy to welcome Ken Whiteley to our sanctuary! Whether it is the soul-stirring harmonies and uplifting gospel sound at our annual ‘Carols by Candlelight’ service on Christmas Eve, or Ken’s patient teaching and obvious knowledge and passion for gospel music at our recurring Gospel workshops and Ken’s Gospel concerts, we never fail to be reminded that “Gospel music makes US feel all right!”.

~ Joanna Mills, Gospel Choir Director, Emmanuel Howard Park United Church, Toronto

“Our congregation loves Ken Whiteley. The words to his songs express the faith that we live. The music is accomplished, lively and passionate, with a great blend of instruments and voices from his fellow musicians and friends. We always leave wanting more of his songs in church.”

~ The Reverend Gary van der Meer, St. John’s Anglican Church, West Toronto

“I hardly ever make these kind of introductions unless there is good reason to do so. Ken is a gifted performer and a wonderful person. He can hold a sacred space and is comfortable in a religious UU context. He is very good at helping the congregation sing together and is more than willing to work with others to develop music for the service. He is fun to work with too.”

~ The Reverend Wayne Walder, Neighbourhood Unitarian Universalist Congregation, Toronto

Gospel Music Concerts & Festival Events

* check back for new listings *

Ken Whiteley & The Fabulous Levy Sisters

Ken Whiteley & The Fabulous Levy Sisters with a bassist (Ben Whiteley, George Koller, Dennis Pendrith, Daniel Koulack) are available for smaller concerts, house concerts, workshops and music festivals. George Koller is pictured in above right photo and Ben Whiteley is in the above left photo.

Ken Whiteley’s Gospel All-Stars

Ken Whiteley’s Gospel All-Stars features Ken with up to 4 additional vocalists (Amoy Levy, Ciceal Levy, Pat Patrick, David Wall), bassist (Ben Whiteley, George Koller, Dennis Pendrith, Daniel Koulack) and drummer (Bucky Berger). Horns and keys may also be added.

To book Ken Whiteley & The Fabulous Levy Sisters or Ken Whiteley’s Gospel All-Stars contact: shari (at) kenwhiteley (dot) com

A bit more about Ken’s Touring Gospel All-Stars

Ken Whiteley is the founder and host of the Toronto Sunday Gospel music series at Hugh’s Room. He is a prolific songwriter, a gifted and versatile guitarist and mandolinist, and a powerful singer. His musical peers affectionately refer to him as a “playing encyclopedia” for his depth and range of styles, covering everything from folk to blues, gospel and swing. Nominated for a Canadian Folk Music Award, his newest recording Another Day’s Journey covers a lot of ground, old and new, with depth, soul and originality. Ken is the proud recipient of the Estelle Klein Lifetime Achievement Award, Mariposa Folk Hall of Fame and has been nominated for numerous Juno and Maple Blues Awards. Gospel Makes Me Feel Alright! which is a live recording from the very first gospel series in 2003, continues to be a best seller at the concerts and online.

The Fabulous Levy Sisters (Amoy & Ciceal) are respected for their groundbreaking work within the gospel community in Toronto. They have been singing with Ken for over 15 years and have also performed with people as diverse as Pete Seeger, Celine Dion and Kirk Franklin. Amoy’s gorgeous soprano and Ciceal’s rich alto have graced many of Ken’s recordings and they are always audience favourites wherever they sing.

David Wall is a composer, lyricist, singer and vocal coach. As lead vocalist of the much revered rhythm and blues band the Bourbon Tabernacle Choir, David toured Canada Extensively, appearing regularly on television and radio. He has performed and recorded with an impressive cross-section of artists including Big Sugar, The Barenaked Ladies, Lorraine Segato and Ken Whiteley. His most recent musical journey as a singer had been into the world of Jewish tradition where he has achieved success recording and touring internationally as lead voice of Toronto’s Flying Bulgar Klezmer Band and Winnipeg’s From Both Ends of the Earth.

Pat Patrick is “one of Toronto’s, and possibly the country’s, deepest bass vocalists.” He has an incredibly rich bass voice, which is infused with sincerity and musical skills. Whether singing harmonies or a solo, Pat is always an engaging performer and an audience favourite. He is a member of Ken Whiteley’s touring Gospel Revue band and can be heard singing on many of Ken’s cds, including Thank You Lord!, Gospel Makes Me Feel Alright! and One World Dance.

Bucky Berger is the drummer for the Juno Award winning Blues ensemble Fathead.Originally from Montreal, Bucky emerged on the Toronto music scene in the seventies and has played and recorded with Chilliwack, Rough Trade, Mr. Dressup, Danny Brooks, The Whiteley Brothers, Maria Muldaur and many others. Ken is always delighted to have Bucky join him on the gospel shows.

Ben Whiteley is a highly sought after bassist who plays with Basia Bulat, Old Man Luedecke, The Good Lovelies, The Weather Station, to name only a few. After a number of years of stellar work holding down the “bottom end”, Ben now brings his winning stage presence and superb musicianship to what has become a somewhat infrequent treat of seeing father and son perform together.

Named National Jazz Awards Bassist of the Year 2007, few people know that George Koller also plays a variety of instruments including cello, sitar, sarode, mandolin, diruba; many featured on his award-winning solo CD, Music for Plants, Animals, and Humans. He has also accumulated hundreds of widely diverse performing and recording credits in his expansive musical career working with The Shuffle Demons, Phil Woods, Peter Gabriel, Loreena McKennitt, Bruce Cockburn, Holly Cole, Ian Tyson, Joe Sealy, and many, many others. George has shared many a stage with Ken across the country. He also co-produced Ken’s Listening CD and he has played on many of Ken’s recordings including Gospel Music Makes Me Feel Alright!