"I do believe that we will have the joint rocking for Jesus," says Evangelist Jo Ann Perkins, director of the D.C.-based World Mission for Christ Choir, which will perform tomorrow night at 9:30 at Eskimo Nell's in Arlington (815 Stafford St., just off Wilson Boulevard at Hecht's). "We believe in using all of our fibers and that we're sent on a mission to deliver a message. We want people to listen to our music and we hope and pray that it will touch and arouse someone, but just as the mailman were to deliver a letter to someone, whether or not they take it is their prerogative."
Among the soloists in the 19-voice group are Perkins' sisters Peggy, "who sings the blues-type gospel pieces," and Jacqueline, who does ballads and up-beat numbers. Perkins, who composes many of the group's songs, says, "We asked God for a tenor and right under our noses was our Mom's grandson, Darnell, 11, a clear, qualitative tenor whose range is incomparable." Keyboardist Minister Richard Offard heads the accompanying trio, which includes bass guitar and percussion.
"We are a family," says Perkins, "initially six single sisters, and after singing and spreading the good news we met husbands and they decided that they wanted to join. Our roots are from North Carolina and my grandfather, Rev. Alonzo Blow, was a devout Baptist minister. Our mother, Malissa Perkins, always had the dream that her children would spread the gospel and she is the person who has really kept us together, the maternal mother of the group. Whether we sing in prisons or on street corners we introduce her fondly as Mom Zion. Our identity is so intact that if you were to ask us to sing over the telephone now, we'd do it."