By Egbert Gaye
From Day One, on August 20, 1990, Mind, Soul & Spirit was meant to touch the hearts of Montrealers.
When Christopher Heron brought the then two-hour show to the airwaves at CKUT 90.3 FM on the morning of August 20, 1990, he wanted to share with listeners the inspirations and joy that he felt with Gospel music.
“I just wanted to share with others my love-affair with the music and to expose it,” he told the CONTACT, just outside the studios of the McGill University-based station, soon after coming off-air on the morning of Sunday, January 5. “Because at the time, radio was a very, very powerful medium and having a voice was a true, true lighthouse.”
A lifelong Christian, Heron who grew up in the 7th Day Adventist Church says it was important for him to take his love for Gospel music beyond the limits of the institution.
“Truth is, church was kind of limiting to do what I wanted to do and I found radio to be the perfect fit to bring Gospel music beyond the walls of the church.”
In a way he says, Mind, Soul and Spirit became his “music ministry.”
Today, almost three decades later, Heron continues to earn the respect of Montreal’s faith community and beyond. His audience span an expansive demographic of age and creed drawn together by the comforting embrace of Gospel music.
For the most part, Mind, Soul and Spirit has retained the same format that has kept it as one of CKUT’s flagship programs over the years.
On any given Sunday listeners are treated to the music of the Gospel legends of yesterday and today as well as local and emerging artistes.
The show also offers a full slate of information and updates on the Gospel industry and artistes.
These days, Heron shares the microphones with his two co-hosts Jennifer Belot and Dorothy Clarke, both accomplished Gospel performers now making use of a different platform to share their passion for the music.
The French-speaking Belot remembers the enthusiasm, she felt when invited by Heron to be part of the show 19 years ago. She says it came with a sharp learning curve but she relished the opportunity.
“Mind, Sold and Spirit for me was a lot of newness, I had to get to know music that I had never heard of before,” she remembers. “We’re talking artistes from the sixties have to learn that whole catalogue, learning to recognize their voices and their music.”
She said just as important were the connections made with local artistes, many of whom are from the French-speaking sector of the community, whose music is today on par with most of those coming from the US and Europe.
Belot, whose bubbly personality is colored by her wide-ranging knowledge of the Gospel scene, has brought a to the show.
She says what makes her “proud” is to stand as a bridge between the English-speaking and French-speaking sectors of the Black community.
She’s also quick to heap praise on Heron for mentoring her and helping her carve her little space on the Montreal airwaves.
Same is true for Clarke, who also credits Heron for recognizing her propensity for communication and lifelong affinity for Gospel music, and gave her an opportunity to share with listeners through her Classical Corner of Mind, Soul and Spirit.
Belot and Clarke follows a long line of illustrious co-hosts and contributors who have shared the mics since Heron went on air for the first time accompanied by Saada Branker and Cyril Shomarie Callender.
Among the others who have shared their passion for Gospel music on the show were Maranatha Ferguson, Erica Shaw, Kettia Massenat, Peter Moncrieffe, Jennifer Meade and Tania Vanco.
Five years ago the show was allotted another hour of programming giving it a time slot of 6 AM to 9 AM.
Along the way Mind Soul and Spirit has distinguished itself by receiving two Sounds Of Blackness Awards (SOBA) designations for Best Montreal Community Radio Show; one Glass Awards for Best Gospel Radio Show in Canada, and last year received two nominations for Best Community Radio Host in Quebec (Christopher Heron/Jennifer Belot) by Gala Dynastie.
On Saturday, February 8, Mind Soul & Spirit will mark its 30th anniversary with a blockbuster Gospel concert, “30 Years IN One Night” at Evangel Pentecostal Church in downtown Montreal, as part of Montreal’s Black History Month Calendar of Events.
The anniversary celebration will feature a line-up of Montreal’s most beloved Gospel artists including Audrey DuBois Harris, Jean Jean, The Fitz-Patrick Sisters, Priscilla Findlay and many more.
The night will be highlighted by a special guest appearance by New York City’s dynamic chorale, Vincent Bohanan & The Sound Of Victory. American actor and comedian, Barry Brewer, Jr. will host the concert. For tickets go to www.30yearsin1night.eventbrite.ca or email email@example.com. Or call: 514-963-7677
Mind Soul & Spirit is heard locally every Sunday morning 6am-9am on CKUT 90.3FM or online at www.ckut.ca.