By: Isa Goldberg
At Chef Marcus Samuelsson’s restaurant, Ginny’s Supper Club, downstairs from the tony Red Rooster (Lenox Avenue between 125th and 126th Streets), mimosas are flying and the champagne flutes are jiggling – all that from the sounds of gospel singing. You can catch this wonderful act, “A Gospel Gathering at Ginny’s,” every Sunday, and along with it a brunch that will keep you in your seat for hours to come.
It wouldn’t be sacrilegious to tell you that Samuelsson’s Swedish accented southern cookin’ is divine. Chilled fruit salad with dill woke up my pallet, but the duck sautéed with white and purple potatoes warmed its way into my soul. While I can usually leave out the hash – the look of it turns me off – his had a sweetness to it that I could never have expected. And Ginny’s got fried chicken – it looks like fried chicken, but flavor-wise it isn’t like any fried chicken I’ve ever had. Should you have to choose just one of the multitude of desserts – I’d go for the chocolate pie. It goes down like butter, which must be its’ primary ingredient, right along with thick chewy dark chocolate, of course.
While you may notice that you’re feeling a bit heavy, you’ll find your spirit soaring when you hear Vy Higginsen’s Gospel for Teens Choir. I was especially taken by a song with just one line, “I want to be ready to walk in Jerusalem just like John.” What these kids did with each phrase, sifting it through waves of emotion and rhythmic variations was utterly delicious. Shaquila Robberts, with her broad innocent smile, joined in with her powerful soprano. Without a hint of shrill, that young woman’s robust voice was a standout, as are the two leads Ahmaya Knoelle Higginson (Vy’s daughter) and Elijah Ahmad Lewis, a young man whose physical might gave power to all of their words. As for the twenty-something Ms. Higginson, she’s no meek creature. Strutting and crooning through the dining crowd, she demonstrated the ease and sophistication of an accomplished chanteuse.
The subject of several television specials including an award-winning profile on “60 Minutes,” The Chorus and its genesis speak to a remarkable accomplishment. Ms. Higginsen founded the Mama Foundation and her School of Gospel, Jazz and R&B Arts in Harlem, to offer musical education and training to young people at no cost. While Vy has turned their heads around and maybe their lives, they’ll be turning yours in the most alluring way.
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