• Photo courtesy of Chico PerformancesHarlem Gospel Choir will perform at Laxson Auditorium on Feb. 24.<p class='dotPhoto'>All Chico E-R photos are available <a href='http://chicoer.mycapture.com/'>here</a>.</p>

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CHICO — Known as the most famous gospel choir in America, The Harlem Gospel Choir, will be sharing its message of love, inspiration and joy of faith through rich harmonies in a Chico Performances production on Thursday, Feb. 24 at Chico State University”s Laxson Auditorium.

The choir was founded in 1986 by Allen Bailey following an inspirational celebration event at Harlem”s Cotton Club in honor of Dr. Martin Luther King, Jr.

The singers come from churches around New York”s Harlem neighborhood, all united by King”s philosophy of “bringing people together,” Bailey says.

Harlem-born Bailey spent decades as manager and promoter for African-American performers like Lionel Richie, Isaac Hayes, Prince and Michael Jackson.

And then he became fed up working for superstars.

“All you”re doing is stroking their egos every day and that felt very empty. So I said to myself, ”If I”m gonna worship God I”ll worship the real one, not the one with a baseball hat on, you know?”

“The choir is foremost a ministry. We do benefits for children”s organizations all over the world. We”re not entertainers. People call us and ask us if we”re entertainers. We”re missionaries for Christ. We”re a nonprofit organization. We donate our profits,” he said.

The reason people might think the group are entertainers is because of their performance history: They are best known for backing U2”s 1988 hit single “I Still Haven”t Found What I”m Looking For,” but have performed for Nelson Mandela at Yankee Stadium; for the Pope in Central Park; and sang for Prince Charles at the Eisteddfod International Music Festival in Llangollen, Wales.

After Michael Jackson”s death in June of 2009, the choir took to the road with a Concert of Hope tour, which featured some of the world”s most popular Gospel music including Oh Happy Day, Man from Galilee and Celebrate.

The songs they performed celebrated the life and music of their old friend and compatriot, with a special tribute of the songs that made him the most significant figure in the world of pop music over the last 30 years including “We Are The World,” “Billie Jean” and “You Are Not Alone.”

The Harlem Gospel Choir”s relationship with Michael Jackson developed way back during Bailey”s first tour with the Commodores, who were performing as the opening act for the Jackson 5 on a national tour of the USA.

After Jackson”s passing, members of Harlem Gospel Choir were invited to take part in the NBC broadcast of Michael Jackson”s funeral service.

Harlem Gospel Choir

When: Feb. 24

Where: Laxson Auditorium

Tickets: $15-$27

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