Jim Thirsk holds a copy of Class Brass and Company’s Gospel CD Highway to Heaven.

Highway to Heaven

Local gospel band Class Brass and Company entertains audiences from the Lower Mainland to the Vatican

It was something Jim Thirsk did on a whim.

While sending out copies of Class Brass and Company’s gospel CD Highway to Heaven last spring, the Langley musician decided to send one right to the man himself: the Pope.

After placing a copy in an envelope addressed to the Catholic Near East Welfare Association in Ottawa (CNEWA), Thirsk thought nothing more of it, until June when he received a shocking email.

Sent by CNEWA National Director Carl Hétu, it read:

“Dear Jim, I wanted to inform you that last week I delivered your CD as you asked to the Pope in person. I was in Rome for meetings and we had an audience with him. I brought your CD with me at the audience and give it to the Pope usher.

“Thank you for the idea of sharing your creation with him. I am not sure what will happened (sic) from here, but at least you can be assured that the Pope got it.”

Thirsk was over the moon with excitement.

“My wife says, ‘You won’t believe this,’” he recalled.

“No, this is not April Fools’ Day.”

Although he doesn’t know for certain if the Pope has had an opportunity to listen to their music yet, Thirsk did say “it’s opened up a lot of doors for the album.

“But he (the Pope) hasn’t called me yet,” he laughed.

Class Brass and Company, a gospel band made up of Vic Schofield (trumpet and flugel horn), Dave Barker (trumpet and flugel horn), Phil Burr (piano), John Barker (drums), Linda Criss (organ, keyboard and percussion) and Lorna Adams (keyboard, congas and percussion), is one of several groups Thirsk has been a member of.

He is also a founder of The Royal Heirs, a gospel group established in 1962.

Now, music lovers in Langley have the opportunity to hear Class Brass and Company live at  the Gospel Music Festival in Cloverdale on June 11.

Also playing the festival are eight-time Grammy award winners The Blackwood Brothers Quartet from Memphis, Tenn., the Liberty Quartet from Boise Idaho, Vancouver Canucks national anthem singer Mark Donnelly, pianist Christine Schafrick and host Bill Ashbee.

The festival is being held at the Cloverdale Baptist Church, 18685 64 Ave. in Surrey. Doors open at 6 p.m., show beings at 6:30 p.m.

Tickets are $20 and are available online at http://bit.do/Gospel, in person at Christian Life Assembly Church, 21277 56 Ave. and Tom Lee Music, 19638 Fraser Highway, or at the door, if any tickets remain.