While President Barack Obama prepares to retake the oath of office during the upcoming 57th Presidential Inauguration ceremony, an estimated half a million others – not counting those watching via broadcast – will be entertained by a performance from, among others, the award-winning Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir.
The six-time Grammy Award-winning musical group out of The Brooklyn Tabernacle church in New York will perform a new rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" as part of the event, which will take place on Jan. 21 at the U.S. Capitol.
The song will be led vocally by Alicia Olatuja, who has performed at Carnegie Hall, and was arranged by the choir's founder, Carol Cymbala, and music director Jason Michael Webb. With over 300 singers from a variety of different backgrounds – from doctors to former drug addicts – the church choir is as diverse as the range of harmonies it plans to put on display through the song.
The choir's version puts a "fresh spin" on the familiar tune, Brooklyn Tabernacle spokesperson Jeremy Castro told The Christian Post on Tuesday, while at the same time staying "true to the legacy of the song."
The song "speaks of the truths of which this country's been founded on, just the opportunities that this country, touched by the hand of God, has given so many people of all different backgrounds. So the theme of the song is very powerful and very appropriate," said Castro.
The Brooklyn Tabernacle Choir has previously performed at massive venues, including Madison Square Garden and the Radio City Music Hall, but Castro says there is a sense that this may be the greatest venue yet because it affords the choir a "global platform."
"It definitely is, of course, humbling and such an honor being selected," said Castro. "It wasn't something we pitched. It's just good to know that ... the choir and the ministry of the Brooklyn Tabernacle, that it's actually having impact in the city of New York and in the nation enough to be asked to be a part of this occasion."
When Senator Charles E. Schumer (D-NY), chairman of the 2013 Joint Congressional Committee on Inaugural Ceremonies, announced the choir's participation in the event in June, he praised not only their voices but also their church.
"As a frequent visitor to their wonderful congregation I know from first-ear experience how amazing this choir is, and I know they will wow the whole nation, too," Schumer said at the time.
The seven-time Dove Award-winning choir has sold over four million albums and had albums land on the Billboard charts on several occasions. The group's rendition of "The Battle Hymn of the Republic" will be bundled with a new song, "Let Your Kingdom Come," and made available for download on iTunes and other online music retailers on Jan. 15. Both songs will also be included on the choir's upcoming album, Love Lead the Way, which is set to be released this spring.