December 7, 2023
As we sit down to reflect on the monumental journey of Zak Williams & 1/AKORD, it's not just a retrospective of melodies and performances but a heartfelt narrative of passion, dedication, and the power of gospel music that has vibrated through the years.
Twenty years in the making, 1/AKORD is a testament to what Zak Williams calls "music excellence." It's a story filled with valley and mountaintop experiences. We are so grateful for his commitment to gospel choirs and the love of his craft that speaks directly to the soul, which has manifested so much fruit w
ithin his community and has touched the world.
Zak's love for choir music is palpable – it's his heart and connection to his roots in Philadelphia. The Macedonian Freehold Baptist Church, his home church, was the cradle of his musical inspiration, housing five choirs that Zak calls "choir heaven." These experiences cultivated the soil of his future with 1/AKORD.
This love affair with music was not just about the art form; it was about the community – being with his people, celebrating the ups and downs, and sharing in the collective spirit of worship. For Zak, choir music was a bridge to his community, faith, and personal evolution.
He reminisces about the influences that shaped his musical path – the Philly mass choir, The Gospel Music Workshop of America, and his ultimate favorite, the Wilmington Chester mass choir. These giants in the gospel music sphere were more than just inspiration; they were the blueprint for the excellence he strived for with 1/AKORD.
Zak's aspirations were never just about performance. He wanted to create music that resonated with people who love choir music, which could be taken back to church on a Sunday morning and uplift spirits. It was about crafting an innovative sound deeply rooted in tradition.
The highlight reel of Zak's career with 1/AKORD reads like a who's who of gospel music. From performing for Dr. Bobby Jones to sharing the stage with icons like the Mississippi Mass Choir and Reverend Milton Biggham, these moments were more than just performances – they were milestones that affirmed their place in gospel music history.
Innovation in their sound came from inspiration and dedication – the kind that saw countless hours of practice and rehearsals. Zak credits a piece of wisdom from his friend Pastor Damien Stewart for their unwavering discipline: "Proper rehearsal prevents poor performance."
Guests invited to their celebrations weren't just chosen for their talents and ability to inspire and contribute to the choir's rich tapestry of influences. This approach to music and collaboration has been a cornerstone of 1/AKORD's ethos.
Watching 1/AKORD evolve from its inception in 2003 has been a journey marked by God's favor, according to Zak. It's a narrative of resilience, of navigating the ebb and flow of a music career, and coming out with a sound that's both unique and true to its roots.
Zak recalls an iconic moment – hearing Bobby Jones introduce 1/AKORD on his show. It wasn't just the recognition that stirred him; it was the affirmation of love for choir music, a moment that confirmed their impact.
Through 1/AKORD, Zak found his voice, both musically and as a leader and speaker, thanks to guidance from Bishop Hezekiah Walker. The choir became his avenue for expression, growth, and leadership.
His homage to the late Reverend Ernest Davis Jr. underscores his deep reverence for those who paved the way. Reverend Davis's mastery in leading the Wilmington Chester Mass Choir remains Zak's gold standard, a constant source of inspiration.
Beyond the music, Zak's commitment to the community shines through his annual toy and coat drives for underprivileged children. These initiatives underscore the choir's role in giving back and being a beacon of hope and support in the Philadelphia area.
As Zak Williams & 1/AKORD gear up for their 20th-anniversary celebration, the choir stands as a symbol of enduring faith, vibrant community, and a legacy that will continue to inspire future generations.
Tickets for this milestone event are available through an early bird special at www.zw1a.com, with festivities set to take place in Philadelphia on February 2nd and 3rd. It's an invitation to be part of a testament to gospel music, to be part of history, and to experience the soul-stirring power of Zak Williams & 1/AKORD.