An Evening of Gospel with Ken Anderson and Dale Fleming

At Sunday’s Bodhi Tree Concert at St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church, the spirit of revival stirred mightily. Under the leadership of San Diego’s seasoned Gospel Music icons Ken Anderson and Dale Fleming, the audience was immersed in a program that revealed the depth and power of a rich music tradition that has sustained and empowered African-American Christians for the last century.

(l. to. r.) Edward Cleveland, Ken Anderson, Dale Fleming, Robert Allen, Arnessa Rickett-Jones [photo courtesy of Bodhi Tree Concerts]

Supported by vocalist  Arnessa Rickett-Jones, organist Robert Allen, and drummer Edward Cleveland, Anderson and Fleming opened with “Hold On (Change Is Coming)” a contemporary Gospel anthem made popular by Sounds of Blackness, a popular Gospel ensemble out of the Twin Cities. Rockett-Jones’ rich mezzo-soprano introduced the song’s inviting theme, quickly joined by soprano Fleming and Anderson—singing his part and playing the center stage concert grand, as he did for nearly every song on the program. The ensemble followed with Walter Hawkins’ classic “The Potter’s House,” which filled the sanctuary with shimmering waves of praise.

Anderson and Fleming gave an ardent, touching account of the late 1990s duet made popular by Celine Dion and Andrea Bocelli—“The Prayer” by David Foster, Carole Bayer, Alberto Testa and Tony Renis. Anderson is always eager to lead a traditional spiritual, and his choice of “This Little Light of Mine” taken at a smart, upbeat tempo brought hearty audience participation.

Straying from the Gospel canon, Fleming engaged her well-trained soprano in Puccini’s familiar aria from his opera Gianni Schicchi “O mio babbino caro,” and Anderson treated Lennon and McCartney’s “Blackbird” like a gentle art song. I appreciated Fleming’s driving Gospel take on Stevie Wonder’s 1973 “Don’t You Worry ‘bout a Thing.”

The ensemble gave robust Gospel treatment to Donny Hathaway’s R & B standard “Someday We’ll All Be Free,” emboldened by Allen’s bright organ solo and a flashy vocal cadenza at the finale. Bernard Edwards’ and Nile Rodgers’ “We Are Family” aptly climaxed the program with solid audience participation.

This concert was presented by Bodhi Tree Concerts on March 19, 2023, at La Jolla’s St. James by-the-Sea Episcopal Church.


  1. Dale Fleming on March 21, 2023 at 10:41 pm

    Thank you for the kind words. We had a wonderful time sharing this music with such an engaged audience. Hopefully spirits were lifted and the message of hope and healing was received. Thank you to Bodhi Tree Concerts and St. James-by-The-Sea for providing the space for a concert of this kind.

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