Jeffrey and Danielle Coprich
By Cora Jackson-FossettSentinel Religion Editor
In 1991, Jeffrey J. Coprich dreamed of providing a positive outlet for the youth of South Los Angeles. "I wanted to keep young people out of trouble and give them something to do," he said, so he founded L.A. Inner City Mass Choir (LAICMC), formerly known as the L.A. Voices of Deliverance Youth Community Choir of Watts.
Coprich recruited 12 teens and young adults from the Watts housing projects and surrounding community, he introduced them to the joy of praising God through song. As a result, his dream became a reality far exceeding his expectations.
During its 20 years in action, LAICMC has sung in venues across the nation; performing for presidents, congressional leaders, governors and local officials. The choir has also recorded gospel music with top artists such as Stevie Wonder, Patti La Belle, and performed with Yolanda Adams and Shirley Caesar and many, many others. "God has blessed us in a mighty way. I didn't start the choir to be a recording artist or any of that. It's all good stuff that came along the way. This choir was always about bringing young people together and letting them know that by placing God and education above all else, they can be rising stars of today, leaders of tomorrow and achievers of the future," Coprich said.
The members of LAICMC come from throughout walks of life and have diverse backgrounds and experiences, explained Coprich. "In most cases, these differences would prevent them from coming together in ministry and or service, but the unique thing about this organization is its ability to cause each person to focus and see the commonalities, instead of the differences.
"This allows them to grow together, work together, minister together, serve together, help each other and love one another. L.A. Inner City Mass Choir is more than a choir, it's a family."
In fact, "It's a Family Affair" is the theme of LAICMC's 20th Annual Anniversary Reunion Concert on Saturday, April 16, at 6 p.m. The concert will be held at Maranatha Community Church, 3800 West Martin Luther King Boulevard in Los Angeles. The program is open to the public for a $7 donation.
Hosting the event are Aundrae Russell of Spread the Word on KJLH Radio and Sylvia Reid of West Angeles Church of God in Christ. Special guests will be Nikki Potts, Lady Rose Neale, Divine Praise Dancers, Voices for Christ Reunion Choir, and Minister John Bernard and the Life Voices Chorale. Guest choir directors include Trenora Parker, Demetrius Allen, Kenneth Shaw Jr., Jamelle Jones, Catherine Rachal, Harold Young, and Nysa Shenay.
"We are also having a very special musical tribute to Dr. Billy G. Ingram," said Coprich, who credited Dr. Ingram with playing a significant role in his life by praying for and consoling him when Coprich's daughter passed away.
"Pastor Billy was very important to me and I was really upset when he died. But, because of him and many others, I've learned to trust God even when I can't make sense of His plan. I tried to comprehend why I had to lose my daughter when I was doing so much to help other young people, but I had to keep the faith and I had to keep going.
"Little did I know that in 20 years, I would be faced with another tragedy. The same man that prayed for me when my daughter died, who taught me how to be a leader, who told me what I needed to do with young people and how I needed to act with young people, would not be here for such a milestone. His teaching and his prayers taught me, as a young man, to keep going."
Coprich added, "It's going to be an emotional evening, but we'll get through it. We are going to celebrate and we want everyone to come out and celebrate with us."
For information, call Erica Beckwith at (310) 696-3332.