About Toronto Mass Choir
We want to create and perform gospel music that will draw all people into the awesome presence of God.
The Toronto Mass Choir (TMC) continues to be on the cutting edge of the Canadian gospel music scene bringing their distinct gospel sound to the world stage.
Seeds of this traveling ministry were sown during the choir’s initial recording session in October 1988. The choir’s debut album, Great Is Thy Glory, released in April 1990 on the Micah Communications label was re-released as The Early Years. TMC’s second live recording, God is our Hope was released in 1994, followed in April 1998 by its Juno nominated album, Follow Him.
In February 2002, Instrument of Praise was released. That year the Gospel Music Association Canada (GMAC) awarded TMC a Covenant Award for Best Urban/Contemporary Gospel Album of the Year. In 2003, they picked up a Juno Award for Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Year; the Vibe Award for Urban/Soul Album of the Year, and the Urban Music Association of Canada Award for Gospel Recording of the Year.
TMC’s music incorporates contemporary gospel, traditional gospel and Caribbean music influences. In particular TMC’s combination of gospel lyrics with a variety of musical styles has resulted in a style unique in Canada.
Toronto Mass Choir continues its busy concert schedule, appearing on many radio and television broadcasts for stations such as CTS, CBC Radio One, CITY-TV, VISION and been the focus for several television documentaries.
TMC’s travels abroad have taken them to several different countries including the United States of America, United Kingdom, Poland, Hungary, Romania, Italy, Trinidad and Barbados.
TMC has also been a special guest at countless church services, festivals, award shows and venues such as The Ottawa Bluesfest, Quebec’s La Festival de Musique Sacree de Saint-Roch, the Toronto Jazz Festival, the Canadian National Exhibition, the Empire Club of Canada, Roy Thompson Hall with the Toronto Symphony Orchestra, Hamilton Place with the Hamilton Philharmonic Orchestra and at the Gospel Music Workshop of America conventions in Washington, DC, Atlanta and Detroit. The choir has also appeared with well-known Gospel singers such as Tramaine Hawkins, Wintley Phipps and Take 6, Canadian recording giants such as Ben Heppner and Jane Bunnett and jazz legend, Jon Hendricks. (04/19)
In November 2005, the choir broke new ground, using a 20-piece orchestra on The Live Experience, which also garnered a GMAC, Covenant Award in 2006 for Traditional Gospel Album of the Year. A Shai Award, the gospel music people’s choice prize, for Urban/Soul album of the year followed in 2007.
The September 2007 release of Going Home, a full Caribbean gospel album, showcased the choir’s soulful style of reggae, calypso, ska and new sounds with the fusion of jazz and reggae.
The release of their seventh album in 2010, A Christmas Gift marked the first Contemporary Gospel Choir Christmas CD release in Canada and showcases TMC at its best. A Christmas Gift also won 2 Covenant Music awards including ‘Seasonal Album of the Year’.
In 2012, as they entered their 25th performance season, Toronto Mass Choir released ‘25’, a CD featuring highlights from over their recording career as well as 4 previously unreleased songs from their early years. That same year, TMC was also awarded the Lifetime Achievement Award from the Gospel Music Association of Canada.
Karen Burke, a graduate of McMaster University, the Royal Conservatory of Music and a Professor of music at York University, is the Artistic Director of this diversified group of singers and musicians along with her husband, Oswald Burke, who is their Executive Producer. “Toronto Mass Choir is proof that Gospel music is alive and well in Canada and it is has been our privilege to share the Good News of the Gospel for over 30 years,” said Burke. Burke also conducts numerous gospel music workshops in Canada and internationally.
Now 40 members strong plus a five-piece band, this not-for-profit choir consists of adult members who are from various local church denominations including Baptist, Church of God, Wesleyan, Missionary, and Pentecostal.
About The Director
Karen Burke (Co-Founder & Director)
Born in Brantford, Ontario, Karen Burke entered McMaster University’s Honours music programme in 1979, where she developed an interest in choral conducting. During her time there, Burke received the Louise E. Bettger Scholarship recognizing excellence in choral work; the Humanities Medal for Special Achievement, and the Hamilton Alumnae Branch Award for outstanding graduating female student upon completion of her Bachelor of Music Degree in 1983. Burke also has an A.R.C.T. Diploma in Piano Teaching and a Masters in Education.
Upon graduation from McMaster, Burke accepted a position as a church music director. She and her husband Oswald Burke co-founded Burke Music Inc. a Gospel music production, live events and publishing company.
In 1988, Burke co-founded the Toronto Mass Choir’s diversified group of singers and musicians and continues to serve as its Artistic Director. She runs the choir with her husband, Oswald Burke, who is Executive Producer. Along with her devoted choral staff, Burke develops the choir’s touring schedules and choral arrangements. Since its inception, she has also written many original songs for the choir’s recordings.
“It has been very important for us to showcase Canadian gospel songwriters, share culture and provide an environment for music to be created and recorded,” Burke said of the choir’s twelve recordings.
After a twelve years as a high school music teacher, Burke became a Professor in the music department at York University in 2005 and established the York University Gospel Choir. Her music career also includes work as a busy guest speaker, classical piano teacher, adjudicator and clinician offering gospel music workshops. Her venues have included the University of Western Ontario, the Ontario Institute for Studies in Education, the Toronto Mendelssohn Choir, the Metropolitan Separate School Board and the Ontario Mennonite Music Camp. Burke is often asked to conduct gospel music workshops abroad and as an artist-in-residence at other universities and festivals.
Message From the Director
“By God’s grace and mighty power, [we] have been given the privilege of serving Him by spreading this Good News.” – Ephesians 3: 7
Gospel music is an amazing medium through which to share the Good News! Those who sing Gospel music have an awesome privilege to inspire, uplift and encourage all people, everywhere. The Toronto Mass Choir (TMC) family is pleased to have had the opportunity to provide quality Gospel music experiences for the world for over 30 years.
Our commitment is threefold: To create high-quality recordings and concert events that appeal to a wide cross-section of people 2) To nurture and maintain a close-knit family of singers and instrumentalists who share common music ministry goals 3) To glorify God by encouraging spiritual growth and sharing the Gospel through music.
Toronto Mass Choir is also passionate about mentorship and leaving a lasting legacy of education, access to and enjoyment of this powerful genre. Where else can you find a Gospel Choir consisting of a diverse group of talented singers from different countries and walks of life that has been creating music and touring together for over 30 years?! This is who we are!
Our vision includes increased opportunities for mentorship, quality programming, new musical collaborations recordings and innovations to engage with music lovers. We are committed to building a team of volunteers, that know and love this ministry, to help our vision come to life. We are also in need of those who can partner with us by becoming a regular monthly donor. Do sign-up to our email list so that you can be kept up to date on our progress and exciting upcoming events.
Everything that we do, we do for the love of Christ and with you in mind. I pray Ephesians 4:14-21 for everyone who is reading this message today. All Glory to God!
”our great power is from God, not from ourselves.”2 Corinthians 4:7
Frequently Asked Questions
2007 — Shai Award
Urban/Soul Album of the Year — The Live Experience CD
2006 — Covenant 2006 Award
Traditional Gospel Album of the Year — The Live Experience CD
2003 — JUNO Award
Contemporary Christian/Gospel Album of the Yearr — Instrument of Praise CD
2003 — Vibe Award
Contemporary Urban Gospel Album of the Year — Instrument of Praise CD
2003 — Maja Award
Gospel Choir of the Year
2003 — Urban Music Association of Canada
Gospel Album of the Year — Instrument of Praise CD
2002 — Covenant Award
Gospel Album of the Year — Instrument of Praise CD
1999 — JUNO Award Nomination
Follow Him CD