Oxygen’s ‘Fix My Choir’ returns tonight with Ja Ronn & FLOW, a diverse local choir from the Bay Area, founded in 2013. Lead by, Ja Ronn Thompson, we’ll get a peek into the interaction between choir and its leader as hosts Michelle Williams and Deitrick Haddon provide some much needed mentoring.
“A lot of times we forget that songs carry a spirit that can potentially save someone’s life. I have no problems showing how seriously I take this,” says the groups founder, Ja Ronn Thompson. We recently caught up with the busy ministry leader as he gears up to watch the episode for the first time with the entire choir.
Faith in the Bay: How much of what we see is real?
Ja Ronn Thompson: Its pretty real. Everything we talk about has a real base to it. We didn’t make up any of the challenges, these are things that were really going on.
FITB: What “fix” would you recommend for today’s choirs?
JT: I think the true “fixing” needs to start with the mentality of why we do what we do. My frustration is people don’t really take into account how serious it is to sing these songs. Its very important and vital. Our name F.L.O.W. stands for Faithful Levites of Worship. As a levite your job is to make sure everything is prepared for battle…the temple is taken care of….God’s word is kept, and his commandments held sacred. I think what we sing is sacred, and should be treated it as such. True praise requires a sacrifice.
FITB: Is this the first group you’ve started?
JT: No. I founded the San Francisco State University Gospel Choir (known as the Gospel Gators). FLOW is made up of members from the first group.
FITB: How hard is it to lead a choir comprised of friends and peers?
JT: It’s difficult at times because a lot of people aren’t able to separate “familySHIP” from “friendSHIP” and “leaderSHIP”. It requires mature people to understand boundaries and the lines between the two. That’s why we kind of got to the point everyone will see in our episode. It’s frustrating to have your friend use an authoritative type tone.
FITB: Share with us some of your favorite choir directors?
JT: Kirk Franklin, Donald Lawrence, Richard Smallwood, and Ricky Dillard are easily my favorites. But I can’t leave out my Bay Area favorites – Terrance Kelly and Chris Haynes.
FITB: How has diversity impacted the strength of your group?
JT: Our diversity makes us relatable. It gives an audience of the world rather than a subculture of a subculture, inside of a microcosm of a subculture. The average person can look at somebody in our group and say “this person looks like me” or “they worship like me”. That makes us so much more palatable, and it’s something inviting about it.
FITB: What was your BIG takeaway from the show?
JT: To be firm but fair. I’ve learned I had to operate according the group I have, not past experiences and also that your input has to match your output.
FITB: What’s coming up next for JaRonn & FLOW?
JT: We’ll be performing at Kevin Moore’s CD Release at Yoshi’s (Feb 8), and later at the Jubilee Christian Center. We just released two new singles available on iTunes, and looking forward to ministry opportunities that might open up while attending the Stellar Awards.
FITB: Did it work for you? Was your choir fixed?
JT: I think it did. I walked away with a lot more insight into how I needed to change myself vs how “they” needed to be changed.
Tune in to #FixMyChoir, Wed January 7, 2015 – 10/9c on Oxygen. For more details on new music from Ja Ronn & FLOW visit bewiththeflow.com