2012 Honorable Mention: Anointed Vessels of Praise

anointedvesselsofpraise Anointed Vessels of Praise (AVOP) is what happens when four God brothers come together and harmonize. Their voices sooth the soul and moves your heart. AVOP won honorable mention at the 2012 Beyond Idol (BI) talent completion held at New Parish in Oakland. Due to some complications, only three of the members we able to attend the auditions held at Laney College.

The recording prize package is what drew them into the competition, says David Diouf, 23, the founder of AVOP and a former Beyond Emancipation (B:E) client. “We really wanted to record. People always ask us for a CD and we don’t have one,” he added. Three of the four members are former foster youth.

The BI audition was the first time the group sang acapella. The original song they sang, titled “A Single Prayer,” was the very first song all members wrote together. Diouf says that is rare the entire group is able to come together long enough to write a song because they all lead extremely busy lives. Diouf and Levy wrote the first part of the song almost a year and a half before all four members of AVOP could be together and have time to finish it. About a week before the auditions, the group came together, finished it in about an hour, and performed it the very next morning. It was filmed and was posted on YouTube.

Diouf states that AVOP needs to work on their branding and start recording. He does not foresee this happening, however, for at least another few years. He hopes that in five years AVOP will produce an album and tour internationally. He says it will take them awhile before they can get together because they all are busy with school or work- He is hopeful though. “Our writing skills will be even better when we get the chance to come back together,” says Diouf.

avop_photostrip Diouf and Errol Bullen, 21, met in high school. Diouf met Henry Dillihant, 29, at a church event through Bullen. Diouf met Matthew Levy, 22, at college, they used to sing in choir together but never spoke. One day Diouf went up to him to say, “hey I know you from choir,” and the friendship began. Sometime later, after Bullen and his mother came back from touring in Australia, they had a welcome back party. At the party, Diouf, Bullen and Levy started to play around signing some quartets. People at the party them they were really good and told them they should start a group. And they did. AVOP formed in 2010.

They all sung together when they visited each other’s churches, but they never practiced together. They had no gigs, until Lee Williams came into town and needed an opening act.

“Our first time performing as a group was at a super extreme high pressure level. It wasn’t like we performed at a high school or community event,” said Diouf. Even though they didn’t get paid, the event itself was paid admission and held in San Francisco at a big old church. “It was pretty cool,” added Diouf. “Just saying you opened up for this big star adds like three notches to your belt.”

Afterwards, people came up to them and asked who they were and invited them to perform at other churches. It took off from there. From April, 2010- to June, 2011, AVOP averaged two to five gigs a week all over the San Francisco Bay Area and Northern California.“We had gigs every weekend, some paid and some not,” said Diouf . “It was very rewarding.”

In the middle of June, 2011, after the gigs slowed down, everyone got busy and their individual lives took over. Dillihant travels all over preaching. Diouf is the Minister of Music at his church, works, and attends school full time. Bullen became a pastor. Levy also attends school full time and is the Ministers of Music at his church.

They haven’t recorded yet, but plan to in the future.

“We even thought of doing an anniversary concert but we never did it. But one day we will, because we want to keep traditional gospel music alive,” said Diouf.

Three months after they started performing together, they came up with their name. They were encouraged to come up with a name because when they opened up for Lee Williams, they were introduced as Eroll Bullen and the Bullenets. Although, it was originally his gig, he didn’t want to do it by himself. The group didn’t want to be known as that. After a long process, they decided on Anointed Vessels of Praise.

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