The Labor of Love Ensemble
The Labor of Love Ensemble is a group that grew out of the United New Church of Christ Choir. The initial members, Hallia Baker, Shkigale Baker and Joyce Walker met when the late Evangelist Dorothy Baker founded United New Church of Christ Deliverance unto the Lord in 1969. They began singing together in the youth choir. The choir at that time owed its style and musical prowess to the influence of Eugene Martin and the A.A. Allen Revival team of David Davis, Richard Page and David Mangum. As youths the choir members learned the songs that they heard in the A.A. Allen revival meetings and honed their singing skills into a strong anointed ministry of music.
UNCOC Choir was the backbone of the church music ministry for over 30 years singing at various functions throughout New York City. UNCOC Choir supported Evangelist Baker’s ministry until her transition in 2002.
Evangelist Baker’s life was a “Labor of Love” – hence the reason behind naming her memorial service “The Labor of Love” Memorial. Her daughters, Shkigale and Hallia Baker, along with the church members decided to host a gala memorial in 2003 celebrating her struggle from certain failure to a life rich in success and heights in the Lord’s work that surpassed all understanding. The service was well received, and the turnout was phenomenal. One of Evangelist Baker’s final wishes was that her favorite charities would be supported on a continual basis.
After months of thought and prayer, the daughters along with the church members decided to produce the concert as their “Labor of Love” on September 11, 2004, at the Miller Theatre at Columbia University in New York City. The concerts have continued since then supporting St. Jude Children’s Research Hospital and NYSAVE pet charity. On July 11, 2005 – The Labor of Love Association, Inc. not-for-profit 501 (c) (3) charitable foundation was established. The Labor of Love Association is a non-denominational foundation established to produce musical (Gospel) concerts as a vehicle for fund raising to support research for the cure and care of diseases that affect the community at large. In 2008, the concert was renamed Heart to Heart Concert, supporting the American Heart Association with the precis Healthy Praise for Healthy Hearts! The choir then took on the name of The Labor of Love Ensemble and has continued to put the gospel to song while never failing to share the anointed style of Gene Martin’s songs; that have made a life lasting influence that fuels the ensemble’s drive to spread it abroad.