Academic journal article Folklore

Technology Comes to "Celestial"

Academic journal article Folklore

Technology Comes to "Celestial"

Article excerpt

The Celestial Church of Christ, a Nigerian fellowship, has branches in cities all over England. Predominantly Yoruba in membership, its services combine the best of English and Nigerian musical traditions---soaring organ music and thudding speaking-drums. It: was my privilege to sit in on a B.B.C. radio recording session recently in the Gothic interior of the Elephant and Castle "Celestial." Music and preaching were being recorded "live," which had a curious effect on the service.

To radio listeners, the songs and messages were to seem spontaneous. In reality, to the dismay of the white-robed singers and musicians, everything had to be recorded again and again.

A bewildered speaking-drum player was wired for sound. Made to don earphones, he received incessant commands from radio H.Q. in the vestry to play the same notes over and over until the "mix" was right.

I was surprised at the technical ability of the B.B.C. man, whom I had dismissed as a "chinless wonder." Yet here he was, setting up microphones and ordering preachers to preach more loudly--all with great efficiency. …

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