Well, It's 1:30 AM and
I'm back from Tonex's first public DVD release party held in
Baltimore. I went to the event with "Majeye" who runs
http://www.aphire.com/ so that we
could interview Tonex and see what this DVD release is all about.
We left for the event early to make sure we checked in for our press
badges on time. It was at New Psalmist Baptist Church in Baltimore and
I'd never been there. We found the place pretty well but we did have a
little detour before hand. I accidentally motioned for Majeye to turn
down an alley that I thought was the street (hey, it looked right!).
There's a little more to the story, but I'll save it.
We parked, went in and took our reserved press seats in the front row
(pretty nice VIP treatment). The church itself is a cavernous
sanctuary with a full balcony and large stage backed by an even larger
choir section. There were 3 large movie screens, 5 TV cameras in the
sanctuary and it was certainly bigger than it looked from the outside.
The forcasted rain held off just long enough to keep the entering
crowd dry. People filed in steadily and I realized that the whole
lower level and some of the upper level would soon be filled. I don’t
have an accurate count but I’d estimate at least 1,500 people were
present. The air was filled with eager anticipation.
Denise Hill-Smith, better known as “The Gospel Lady” (on Washington
DC’s WKYS Sunday Morning Gospel show) was the MC for the night, and
welcomed everyone to the premier showing of “Out The Box: The Movie“.
After that, the action really got started.
For those who already own or have heard the CD, you know that it was
recorded live in one night. Well, this DVD is the presentation of that
one night, and much more. Essentially, it combines the live recording
with behind the scenes footage, commentary, preaching interludes and
digital effects. It is part music video, part documentary and part
live concert to put it simply. Camera angles are cut together like a
music video and images are altered or highlighted with special effects
to accentuate this high energy DVD.
I’ll venture to speak for everyone at the event by saying, once the
music started, the whole audience was transported back to September
29th, 2003 in San Diego to relive the excitement and energy of that
night of live recording. When there was prayer on the DVD, people said
“Amen” in the back row. When Tonex said to clap, we all clapped.
Throughout the movie there was applause, laughing, hollers, yells and
dancing right in step with the movie. We weren’t watching a DVD, we
were AT that concert in San Diego!
The DVD followed the double CD’s track listing, keeping true, yet
adding a whole new dimension to the musical experience. After the 2nd
segment of apparently 6 on the DVD the lights came on and an emotional
Tonex took the stage. Later, during the interview, he said that he was
surprised at how much energy the audience had while watching. Over a
year of effort led to this moment of its first public showing and he
was humbled by the results.
When Tonex took to the stage in person, the crowd erupted. I don’t
think they reacted simply because they thought a budding “Gospel
Superstar” was in the house. I believe that after seeing the talent,
diversity and dedication of the man Tonex in the movie, they had a
clearer vision of what he is all about. I’d venture to say that they
applauded the sacrifice and heart of a man called to change gospel
There was more to come from Tonex this night, however. After singing
two songs, Tonex proceeded to “Have some CHURCH!”. You know what I’m
talking about too. There was singing, dancing, preaching and praying
for the following two hours of a scale not soon to be rivaled.
The nights program was altered due to the long praise and worship
session and no more of the DVD was shown but I don’t believe many
people minded. Majeye and I went into the green room, where a tired
Tonex relaxed for a few moments after the concert, and conducted an
interview session. The interview will be posted on
http://www.aphire.com/ soon so I
won‘t get into it here. Tonex then headed out to sign autographs and
chat with the large line of people waiting for him.
Overall, I’m glad I went. I enjoyed the DVD. As Tonex said, it’s
something “the whole family can enjoy”. The production and behind the
scenes footage is interesting and the music and dancing is great. (Oh,
did I forget to mention that Tonex dances the whole time, has a full
band, a full choir and a dance team on stage? Sorry, I’ll try to fit
that in next time)
To be completely candid, I listen to mainly hip-hop and occasionally
enjoy gospel music. I picked up Tonex’s first CD “Pronounced toe-nay”
in ’97 when it first came out and have kept an eye on him since. I
think this DVD would make a good stocking stuffer this Christmas
season for fans of gospel music. I’m glad I was able to see and speak
with Tonex. He’s grown a lot over the years, as has my appreciation
for the work he’s doing to change the face of Gospel music.
Seth "Nomad" Wallace