New $1.1 Million Grant to Help Support Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts

New $1.1 Million Grant to Help Support Samford’s Center for Worship and the Arts

Education Extra

Animate is one of the programs at Samford University’s Center for the Worship and the Arts. The five-day worship leadership program is for teenagers and their adult mentors. Animate 2018 is June 25-29 and registration is open, www.samford.edu/go/animate

Samford University has received an additional $1.1 million grant from Lilly Endowment Inc. to further the work of the Center for Worship and the Arts. Housed in Samford’s School of the Arts, the center is advancing the conversation about teenage worshippers and teenage worship leaders.

The founding director of the Center for Worship and the Arts, Eric Mathis arrived at Samford in 2010. He holds a bachelor of music from Wheaton College, a master of music and master of divinity from Baylor University and George W. Truett Theological Seminary and a Ph.D. in theology from Fuller Theological Seminary. “We are grateful to Lilly Endowment for its support of our work and our mission as we equip congregations to build bridges between student ministry and worship ministry,” Mathis said.  “Through programs, research, and scholarship, we are creating a national platform for conversations about the relationship between youth ministry and worship ministry, and we believe this conversation is important for the church and the work of God in the world.” Founded as anima in 2013 with the help of a grant from the Christ Is Our Salvation (C.I.O.S.) Foundation, the program recently revised its name to the Center for Worship and the Arts. Animate, its flagship summer worship leadership program retains its current identity.

The center is celebrating its fifth anniversary and launching several new initiatives thanks to the additional grant, Mathis said. New program highlights are a Worship Leader Boot Camp for teenagers, allowing youth ministers and worship leaders to jump start their fall programming with teenage youth worship leaders; Student Worship Cohorts which will develop a deeper relationship with congregations participating in Animate; Student Worship Innovators which will engage church leaders in creating new resources for student worship; and new writing projects, including a book by Mathis under contract with Baker Academic Publishing. The center continues to provide online resources, an online certificate program with expanded goals and its summer program, Animate.

Other center team members include Tracy Hanrahan, Program Director; Kara Young, Coordinator of Promotion and Engagement; and three Faculty Fellows: Emily Andrews, Instructor of Church Music and Worship Leadership; Joe Cory, Associate Professor of Art; and Chuck Stokes, Associate Professor of Sociology. To learn more about the Center for the Worship and the Arts: cwa@samford.edu, 205-726-4525, @samfordcwa †

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The GIFT of Music

The GIFT of Music

Music Notes

“Mom, thanks for letting me quit piano lessons when I was a kid!”… said no one ever! Actually, I can’t count the number of times I’ve had someone bemoan the fact that they quit taking piano or voice or [insert your instrument of choice here] lessons as a child.

In elementary and junior high school, my love for music wasn’t nearly as strong as my love for sports. I dreamed of being the next Roger Staubach, but I was also in the school band and found a great love for music. I am grateful for parents and educators who encouraged me to try different activities and taught me not only to complete whatever commitment I had made to a sports team or any other group I was involved in, but to also do my very best in them. For me, music won the day and I clearly remember all the wonderful people who helped me along the way. The only regret I have is not taking private lessons earlier in life.

Today it seems as if parents are choosing specific paths for their children at a very young age, but let me encourage you to take a breath and allow your child the advantage of experiencing many different opportunities- including music making. It is a well-known fact that music education has tremendous benefits such as self-discipline, teamwork, organization, critical thinking and many more. However, as Northwestern University research revealed and Melissa Locker reported in her Time magazine article, “This is how Music Can Change Your Brain,” to fully reap the cognitive benefits of a music class, kids can’t just sit there and let the sound of music wash over them. They have to be actively engaged in the music and participate in the class.” I promise you will not regret the time and energy spent in pursuing music education. One way of doing this is through programs like Meadow Brook Baptist Church’s School of Fine Arts, otherwise known as S.O.F.A.

S.O.F.A. is designed to meet the student where they are and help them develop the skills and discipline it requires to reach their fullest potential. Whether for use in performance, ministry or personal enjoyment, S.O.F.A.’s mission is to see each person grow in their talent and passion for the arts. Whether you are a beginner or very experienced musician, take advantage of S.O.F.A. and reap the benefits music has to offer. Registration for spring classes is taking place now, visit www.mbbc-sofa.org.

-David Vaughan 

Worship Pastor, Meadow Brook Baptist Church, 

4984 Meadow Brook Rd, Birmingham, AL 35242

205-991-8384, www.meadowbrookbaptist.orgwww.mbbc-sofa.org

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Christmas in Four-Part Harmony at the Lyric

Christmas in Four-Part Harmony at the Lyric

Music Notes 

The award-winning men’s a cappella chorus, Voices of the South, will perform their 18th annual Christmas show, “Christmas at the Lyric, “December 9 at 7 p.m. As the name reflects, the performance will be at the beautifully restored downtown Birmingham Lyric Theatre and will include a wide variety of great Christmas music.

A part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, Voices of the South, is dedicated to preserving a style of music that is original to the United States. “Barbershop harmony today is not your grandfather’s barbershop,” Chapter President Ed Wharton says. “We do a wide variety of music ranging from the old classic ‘Shine on Me’ to the more recent Leonard Cohen tune ‘Hallelujah’, and all of it is sung in four-part harmony. At their most recent district contest in October, Voices of the South placed first in their plateau/division and received the distinction of “Most Improved Chorus.” In addition to performing at events and competitions throughout the year, Voices of the South supports Wings of Hope Pediatric Foundation, a local charity providing assistance to parents who have terminally ill children.

This year’s Christmas performance will include a special guest appearance by the Iron City Singers, founded on two principles: singing quality choral music at a high level of artistry, and performing as a close-knit community of singers who care about one another. This talented ensemble is composed of singers who have previously performed together at the high school, collegiate, church, and professional levels, and is made up completely of volunteers.

For more information about Voices of the South visit voicesofthesouth.com. To purchase tickets to “Christmas at the Lyric,” go to lyricbham.com/events. †

See Alabama’s own Voices of the South perform live with special guest, Iron City Singers, at the Lyric December 9.

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My Story My Song: Birmingham’s Cheryl McWhorter

My Story My Song: Birmingham’s Cheryl McWhorter

Music Notes

Cheryl McWhorter will be appearing November 11 at the “Dressed Up But Messed Up Symposium/A Conversation about Abuse” at Hope Everlasting Ministry in Trussville. She is also performing December 15 at the Perfect Note Jazz Restaurant in Hoover.

Birmingham gospel recording artist, Cheryl McWhorter, recently released her new single titled “No More.” The single was co-produced by Birmingham composer, Lincoln Byron Morgan Thomas and is meant to bring consciousness to the problem of domestic violence.  A percentage of the proceeds from the single will be donated to safehouses across the country. In addition to being a gospel singer, McWhorter is a survivor of spousal abuse and the founder of No More, a ministry to victims of domestic violence. McWhorter is known for blending Christian melodies with smooth contemporary sounds of jazz, traditional gospel, and a sampling of neo-soul. She got her musical start early. Her father, a pastor would frequently call her up to sing before and after his sermons when she was only seven years old. Her mother, lead singer of an a cappella gospel group would have her to fill-in when one of the group’s members could not attend an event. Soon she was singing everywhere she could; at church and in local talent competitions, a pattern that continued all the way through high school. She completed her 11-track debut album, Cheryl McWhorter: My Story My Song, in 2016. Learn more at www.cherylmcwhorter.com

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Live Gospel Music including Jimmy Davis

Live Gospel Music including Jimmy Davis

Music Notes

Jimmy Davis takes the stage at the North Jefferson Gospel Fest October 28 at Black Creek Park, Fultondale, 35068. Enjoy live music from him and many others from 10am-4pm. Davis will also sing at the 11am October 29 service at Glennwood Baptist, www.myglennwood.org.

Enjoy a great day of Gospel Music at the First Annual North Jefferson Gospel Fest at Black Creek Park in Fultondale October 28. Among the performers will be multi-award winning Southern Gospel singer and songwriter, Jimmy Davis (www.jdea.org) from Pilot, Va. Davis has received more than 30 awards (CGMA, AMG, Emmy) for his balanced mix of “songs, hymns and spiritual songs.”

Davis’ musical style has a way of ministering to your heart with a spirit of encouragement and heart-felt love for his Saviour. “My purpose is to give the Gospel. Whether I am preaching or singing, the Gospel will be given,” says Davis, who pastored Lighthouse Baptist Church in Christiansburg, VA for 17 years before being called into full-time evangelism. He has been on stage with artists like Paul Overstreet, Point of Grace, Brian Free and Assurance, Greater Vision and many others. Besides performing at the North Jefferson Gospel Fest, Davis will also be a part of the 11 a.m. Sunday service at Glennwood Baptist in Morris on Sunday October 29. It’s a great weekend of music you won’t want to miss! †

 

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Reaching Kids for Christ Through Music

Reaching Kids for Christ Through Music

Music Notes

Campers gathered at Central Park Baptist Church in Ensley for Daniel Cason K.I.D.S. (Kids in Divine Service) Camp designed to reach children with the Good News.

With the help of about 50 volunteers and community donations, Rev. Daniel M. Cason and his wife Gwendolyn invited nearly 300 children to their 21st Annual Summer Music Camp- free of charge. The two-week camp allowed children, who would not otherwise have the chance, to learn from music professionals and grow in their faith. “For some of them, this just may have been their very first time hearing about Jesus,” explains Cason adding, “Our curriculum is designed to be fun, educational and 100% Christian based.” The theme of this year’s camp was “We Are Family,” teaching campers how to be a part of a family and the importance of family. At the conclusion of camp, all participants took part in a concert and Daniel Cason Ministries presented $5000 in scholarships to campers to continue in their music education. A free DVD of the camp concert is now available to anyone interested in learning more about the ministry and how they can help. Call 205-365-1800 to receive your free copy, visit www.danielcason.org. †

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Music Notes: Ellie Holcomb

Music Notes: Ellie Holcomb

Dove Award Winning Ellie Holcomb On Stage in Birmingham

Enjoy “Hymns of Hope: A Night with Ellie Holcomb,” August 24 at Iron City Birmingham, 513 22nd St S, 35233. Purchase tickets at www.prodigalpottery.org. Learn more about Holcomb at www.ellieholcomb.com.

Get ready for a great night of beautiful music and inspiration at Iron City Birmingham on Thursday August 24.  “Hymns of Hope” features an evening with Dove Award winning singer-song writer Ellie Holcomb and benefits Shelby County’s Prodigal Pottery, a ministry of King’s Home. Prodigal Pottery’s mission is “to provide a safe and therapeutic work environment for women in need that develops healthy professional skills, interpersonal relationships and spiritual depth.” The ministry provides women fleeing homelessness and domestic abuse with meaningful employment, while equipping them with entrepreneurial skills needed to succeed.

The title song of Ellie Holcomb’s latest project, Red Sea Road, has been a sweet gift of hope to the women of Prodigal Pottery, and you can hear Holcomb sing this powerful tune and many others live August 24. The single “Find You Here” is particularly personal. It’s a song about the profound peace Holcomb and her family experienced in the wake of a cancer diagnosis for her dad, music producer Brown Bannister. “It didn’t make any sense to have peace with so many questions and unknowns on the horizon, but we really did experience God drawing near to our broken hearts in a palpable and beautiful way,” she explains, adding, “The song is a celebration of the faithfulness of God, and how He shows up in the most unlikely, most broken places.” Red Sea Road is a record full of songs that capture how Holcomb has seen God show up in the middle of a painful and heavy season in her life and those around her.

The Nashville native began her musical career touring the country with husband Drew Holcomb and The Neighbors. After 8 years, and the birth of their daughter, Emmylou, Ellie opted to step out of the role of heavy touring. From that space came her debut solo album, As Sure As The Sun, which charted at No. 1 on the iTunes Christian chart and helped deem Holcomb the “Best New Artist” at the 2014 Dove Awards. Enjoy Holcomb performing live while you help women in our community rebuild their lives. Learn more and purchase tickets at www.prodigalpottery.com. †

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Remembering Gospel Greats, RW Blackwood & Bill Lyles

Remembering Gospel Greats, RW Blackwood & Bill Lyles

Music Notes

Witness history and great Gospel music at the Samford Wright Center June 30. The evening will be a tribute to Gospel greats RW Blackwood (front R) and Bill Lyles (front L) who died in a plane crash June 30 1954.

Gospel music fans and anyone with an interest in music history are in for an incredible treat Friday June 30 at the Samford Wright Center. The Blackwood Quartet, featuring Ron and Mark Blackwood, will present a “Blackwood Brothers Memorial Concert” remembering RW Blackwood and Bill Lyles.

June 30 marks 63 years since the plane crash in Clanton, Ala. that killed RW Blackwood and Bill Lyles, half of the famous Blackwood quartet, whose success included being the first Gospel group to be on national television. Ron Blackwood, son of RW, will be on stage to participate in the special tribute. He was only 13 when his father died. “It created a lot of anger in my life for many years. I was mad at God. I could not understand it. My dad was my hero. I’m 76 now, and I was in my 60s before I could control that feeling inside of me,” explains Ron, “but through prayer and my wife, I began to realize that God has a plan. The anger began to leave. Today I know that my father’s memory is still alive after all these years. Bill Gaither told me, ‘There is not a name in Gospel that is more well-known than your daddy and your family.’”

After the crash, RW Blackwood’s nephew, Cecil, took his spot as baritone and was joined by JD Sumner who took Bill Lyles place singing bass. Ron founded the Blackwood Quartet in 1964 and in addition to performing became a manager or booking agent for many stars such as Hank Jr, Tanya Tucker, Vern Gosdin, Billy Walker, The Imperials, Carman, Larry Gatlin, the late, great, J.D Sumner and many more. Although he retired from the group in 2010, the Blackwood music lives on. Members include Mark Blackwood, Casey Shepherd, Joe Armstrong, and Chuck Pettyjohn. The group is putting the finishing touches on a Gospel album with Willie Nelson (produced by Mark Blackwood) and a project with Bob Dylan is also in the works. Ron Blackwood sees this as a great opportunity to “get our message out to people beyond the church walls.”

At the historical concert event June 30, expect to see vintage video and hear a lot of songs the Blackwood Brothers made popular over the years- garnering members 8 Grammys. “You will hear and see things you never knew about Gospel music. It will be both a blessing and very entertaining,” says Ron Blackwood. The special tribute begins at 7pm. For tickets visit www.tickets.samford.edu or call 205-726-2853. †

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Red Mountain Theatre Company presents Fiddler on the Roof

Red Mountain Theatre Company presents Fiddler on the Roof

City Scene 

Birmingham’s Kyle Holman, who played the Pharaoh in RMTC’s production of Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde, will take the stage as Tevye in Fiddler on the Roof. Through June 16 if you use the discount code: BCF20, you will receive a 20% savings on tickets to Fiddler and Disney’s Newsies, www.redmountaintheatre.org or call 205-324-2424.

Fiddler on the Roof is the perfect musical. It has everything in it-music, dance, and a rich story,” says Kyle Holman who will be playing the lead role of Tevye in the Red Mountain Theatre Company (RMTC) production of the musical beginning June 9.  Set in a little village in Russia in 1905, the story centers on Tevye, a poor dairyman, and his five daughters. With the help of a colorful and tight-knit Jewish community, he tries to protect his daughters and instill them with traditional values in the face of changing social mores and growing anti-Semitism. “The most important thing I have found in the character of Tevye is his godliness. He is a man of God doing what he can to fulfill what he believes his commitment to God should be,” explains Holman. “What I really like about him are some of the conversations that he has with God. He turns and talks with him like his best friend…I love his honesty with God.” Holman is a graduate of the American Academy of Dramatic Arts in New York and worked in professional theatre in New York for many years before returning home to Birmingham to establish a successful career as a voice actor. Previous roles with RMTC have included the role of Pharaoh in Joseph and the Amazing Technicolor Dreamcoat and Professor Callahan in Legally Blonde.

Performing with Holman will be Alabama native Jonathan Bryant, who will make his RMTC debut in Fiddler as Russian/Ensemble. “I am excited to be a part of this great story,” says Bryant, a musical major at The University of Alabama. Bryant shares how his faith in Christ drives his desire for an acting career. “It’s my motivation. It’s very encouraging to have my life backed up by faith. It takes off the weight of life. It changes your perspective,” says Bryant, adding that doesn’t mean living out his faith is easy. “It’s hard in this business to have your beliefs and not have them questioned. It would be easy to let go of that and join the crowd, but I know that living out my faith through actions and speech can affect people in a positive way.” Bryant adds, “I want to encourage young actors to stand strong in faith and be that light that people need. People need that light and faith in their lives.”

Huntsville’s Jonathan Bryant will make his RMTC debut in Fiddler, June 9-25 at the Dorothy Jemison Day Theater, 800 19th St N, 35203.

Bryant and Holman both look forward to being able to perform Fiddler in Birmingham’s state of the art Dorothy Jemison Day Theater. “The acoustics are great. The lighting is gorgeous. Expect it to be engaging,” says Holman. “It’s such a beautiful place, the venue will definitely add to the experience,” adds Bryant.

Besides inspiring audiences through powerful theatre experiences, RMTC offers educational programs that build positive life skills for young people and provide growth opportunities for theatre professionals. Under the leadership of Executive Director Keith Cromwell, the Birmingham based nonprofit organization is in its 38th year of inspiring audiences, changing lives and creating conversations through theatre experiences. For more details and to buy show tickets visit www.redmountaintheatre.org. † Photos: Stewart Edmonds.

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