Fifty strong, the Scott A. White Family of Steelton, Pa., lined up on stage, toddlers to adults, and thundered out "One Big Family" to the barrel-house piano of David White and the solid four-drum accents of 13-year-old Paul Porter.
Then the youngsters took seats in the audience with the founders, Elder Scott A. White and his wife Mary, of the "largest gospel singing family in the nation."
What followed in the Smithsonian's Baird Auditorium yesterday afternoon was two hours of stomping, swaying, multi-voiced worship.
Outstanding were the vocal pyrotechnics cum fervor of religious conviction of lead singer Marie Franklin on "I Just Couldn't Keep It to Mayself" and the conducting of Scott White III who, one felt, could levitate the choir if he so chose. A house-shaking "I Want to Be a Christian in My Heart" crumbled the mortar between the bricks.
But if anyone stole the show it was the return to the stage of the grandchildren for two numbers of voice-cracking falsetto and glimpses into the future of this authentic and vital expression of Black American culture.
This was the final concert of the season's Black Gospel Music Series of the Smithsonian. Look for more in the fall.