If you happen to be passing Our Lady of Hope Church at 5200 North Broad Street in North Philadelphia on Sunday, April 27 around 3 p.m., you are apt to hear some great singing coming out of the grand old church. But of course you will hear it better if you go inside and take a seat.

It will be quite a concert – there will be gospel choirs from Philadelphia’s St. Charles Borromeo, St. Raymond, St. Martin de Porres and Our Lady of Hope parishes, as well as East Bethel Baptist Church, Neumann University and Temple University.

Although they are adult choirs, the beneficiaries will be youth programs sponsored by Our Lady of Hope, the archdiocesan Office for Black Catholics and Tonya Dorsey’s New Vision Foundation, a group that gives music scholarships to talented kids. Proceeds from the benefit concert will be shared equally among the three groups.

Every program seems to have an acronym these days, and in this case it is STEP UP, which stands for Support, Transform, Encourage, Promote, Uplift and Promise.

“This is much more than a catchy acronym,” said Deacon Bill Bradley, director of the Office for Black Catholics. “It is a furthering of the commitment we made to the seventh element from the National Black Catholic Congress Plan of Action. That element calls us to reach out to the next generation. The plan calls for us to promote leadership among youth and young adults. It is the goal of this benefit concert to do just that.”

“It will be a wonderful choir concert,” said Cynthia Arlene Brown, who is taking charge of the event at Our Lady of Hope. As chairperson of the parish finance council she’s well qualified to handle it, and her heart is definitely in it, when one considers she graduated from the parish school back in the day when it was Holy Child Parish.

The benefit concert, which requests a $20 donation, will feature each of the choirs separately, not as an ensemble, which means there are a variety of group sizes and styles, but all worth hearing.

“We want this to be faithful and faith-filled,” Brown said. “We want it to demonstrate our commitment to our youth. We have to continue to evangelize them, and this is one example of coming together and filling the church with music. I hope we can fill the church.”


Tickets can be ordered through Cynthia Brown (267-738-7288) or Bernice Oakman (215-868-1390).


Lou Baldwin is a freelance writer in Philadelphia.