Crowds were small, but spirits were high at the gospel singing fundraiser concert at the Chief Joyce Dugan Cultural Arts Center on Saturday, March 8.
This year’s concert brought in less than $50 for the Cherokee High School Student Assistance Program. The state basketball playoffs were scheduled the same day which contributed to low numbers in attendance. Reba Elders plans to move the date next year to prevent scheduling conflicts and increase promotion of the event in hopes of boosting audience attendance.
“Since the program relies heavily on donations, we were disappointed with the turn out. But we have faith the community will continue to support our efforts for our kids,” Elders said.
The performances included hymns, original songs, and interpretive dance. Freedom Heirs opened the night with a down home feel, and Glory Road Gospel Singers wrapped up the night with an enthusiastic performance and a moving testimony.
Leader Veda Smith said, “We are gonna go out in a blaze of glory. I want to hear some shoutin’ in this place.”
One of the highlights of the evening was a group of five young girls who performed an interpretive dance to a popular Christian contemporary song. Mia Clegg, 13, Belle Brock, 12, Abby Brock, 11, Savannah Pollard, 10, and Jada Pollard,9, are the grandchildren of Veda Smith. She helped organize them into a group because she thinks it is important for our young people to serve the Lord. It also helps keep them out of trouble because there is so much for them to get into nowadays. The group plans to stay together even after high school.
“Worshipping the Lord is all we try to do,” said Clegg.
Local performer Yona Wade, Cultural Arts Center director, played the piano, sang a collection of songs, and operated the sound and lights for the concert. He has been singing all his life and earned degrees from the University of North Carolina School of the Arts in Music-Opera Performance and Arts Administration. He is glad CCS allows the program to host a gospel singing event at the school because not all schools have this opportunity.
Wade said, “We are fortunate to have a valuable and needed program like this in our school. The CHS Student Assistance Program helps set us apart from other schools by making it culturally specific to the students. The key to its success is the facilitators and support of the community.”
Freedom Ministries leader Glendon Williams brought several groups and individuals from Georgia to perform with local talent organized by program coordinator Reba Elders.
Williams runs a singing barn on Satudays at 1067 Old Dahlonega Hwy. in Dahlonega, Ga. He was recently inducted into the EMCA Gospel Music Hall of Fame to honor his 30 years of service to the industry. His group Freedom Heirs includes his wife of 47 years Jean and Jane Chadwick. Diane Goss from his home church performed with the group on Saturday.
This is his fifth year participating in the annual fundraising concerts with Elders. He loves coming here to perform and help the students. He is looking forward to coming back for the event at the fairgrounds where 25-30 groups perform.
“Reba is a fine lady and does so much to help these kids. We’ll keep coming whether it’s a few or a lot because we just love to sing,” Williams said.
If you missed this wonderful concert and want to donate to a great cause, send your donations to CHS Student Assistance Program, ATTN: Reba Elders, 200 Ravensford Dr., Cherokee, NC 28719.
– Cherokee Central Schools