VANESSA BELL ARMSTRONG & THE TOMMIES REUNION CHOIR
December 16 @ 7:30 pm
Tickets start at $38.50
additional fees may apply
Come and be inspired in song by the seven-time Grammy nominated Legendary Gospel singer, Vanessa Bell Armstrong and arguably, the greatest choir of all times, The Tommies Reunion Choir, formally the Thompson community singers affectionately, known as The Tommies.
Vanessa Bell Armstrong
After more than four decades on the gospel music scene, the legendary Vanessa Bell Armstrong still has the energy and contemporary R&B style that has defined her career from the beginning. A Seven times GRAMMY® Award-nominee and Stellar Award winner, Armstrong helped to redefine contemporary gospel music. In recognition of her extraordinary contributions to the gospel music industry, she was presented with the Dr. Bobby Jones Legends Award at the 26th Annual Stellar Music Awards . Her fan base includes the “fan in chief,” President Barack Obama, who has said that Armstrong is one of his favorite gospel artists. Oprah Winfrey deemed her the best female vocalist in the world.
Armstrong was born in Detroit, Michigan and began singing at age four. When Bell was 13 years old, Dr. Mattie Moss Clark (mother of the renowned gospel group, The Clark Sisters), a pioneer in gospel music became a mentor to Armstrong, who began traveling with Clark.
Armstrong was a trailblazer in gospel music, bringing a strong R&B style to the songs she sang. She has recorded 15 critically-acclaimed and award-winning albums and had a string of number one hit songs including “You Bring Out The Best In Me”, “Peace Be Still”, “Nobody But Jesus”, “Walk With Me”, “Good News”, “Desire of My Heart”, “Pressing On”, “Faith that Conquers”, “Following Jesus”, which earned Bell a Soul Train Music Award for Best Solo Gospel Album.
She made her Broadway debut in Don’t Get God Started at the Longacre Theatre, where she co-starred with Giancarlo Esposito, BeBe Winans and Chip Fields, among others. In 1989, Armstrong also had an acting role in Oprah Winfrey’s critically-acclaimed ABC miniseries, The Women of Brewster Place.
The multitalented Armstrong enjoyed success beyond recorded music. She was chosen to record the theme song for the popular television sitcom Amen. “They told me they were looking for a singer who had the soulfulness of Aretha Franklin and the range of Patti LaBelle,” said Armstrong. “I was so honored to be compared to those two artists who I admire greatly.”
The Tommies Reunion Choir
Chicago’s Grammy® Award winning Thompson Community Singers, or The Tommies, as their fans call them; dominated the gospel music airwaves from the start of the Reagan administration to the close of Clinton’s. They reigned as America’s No. 1 choir with massive hits such as “For the Good of Them,” “There is No Failure in God,” “If I Be Lifted,” “I’m Available to You” and “Safe in His Arms” which still pulls 50,000 streams a week – over thirty years after its initial release in 1986. Its founder, Rev. Milton Brunson, died in 1997 and the choir eventually disbanded. However, the primary soloists, songwriters and musicians who made the choir great in its heyday are back as The Tommies Reunion with their first new album in years.
The original Thompson Community Singers were formed by Rev. Milton Brunson in 1948 when he was still a high school student. The group began recording for Vee-Jay Records in 1963 at the same time that the historic black-owned label introduced the now-iconic Beatles rock band’s first LP to a North American audience.
They enjoyed a solid decade of success that included five Billboard No. 1 albums and numerous accolades. Rev. Brunson died suddenly in 1997. His widow continued the choir for a while and supervised its final album Real, for Word Records in 2000. Darius Brooks and other key members of the group, convened for the Tommies Reunion and recorded and released a new album in 2019, The Tommies Reunion.
The Tommies Reunion, is a continuum of their rich history. Some of the voices that molded their classic songs such as Percy Bady, Kim McFarland, Tina Watson Conley, Leanne Faine, Denise Battle and Brooks are back and featured on these brilliantly rendered musical gems. The players have returned as well such as Steve Huff, Richard Gibbs, Al Willis, Tyrone Block, Bady, Brooks and Rev. Brunson’s son, Kevin Brunson. The Tommies earned four Grammy® nominations and won one trophy as Best Gospel Album by A Choir or Chorus for the album, “Through God’s Eyes” in 1994.