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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Bob Sykes BBQ & Blues Festival Helps Ady’s Army

Bob Sykes BBQ & Blues Festival Helps Ady’s Army

Music Notes

Van Sykes the 2nd generation owner and pit master of Bob Sykes Bbq Restaurant, says “We’re excited to celebrate the 60th birthday of Bob Sykes Bbq at our yearly Bbq & Blues Festival!”

Bob Sykes Bbq will celebrate its 60th Anniversary while hosting its 8th Annual Bob Sykes Bbq and Blues Festival on Saturday, May 20 from Noon-8pm. The event combines the music of award winning local and national blues musicians with great bbq at DeBardeleben Park in historic downtown Bessemer. The blues musicians set to perform include Chris Simmons, Albert White and the MusicMaker Revue, Eight O’Five Jive, Markey Blue, The Norman Jackson Band and Joe Louis Walker. There is something to do for the entire family including a large kids corner with activities and games, arts and crafts, outdoor exhibits, and legendary Bob Sykes Bbq.

A portion of the festival proceeds will benefit the Birmingham based non-profit, Ady’s Army (www.adysarmy.org) whose mission is “serving God by serving special needs families.” Money raised will be used to support programs like “Fins,” which teaches special needs children how to swim and “Paws,” which helps families secure service dogs for children with severe autism. “This is massive for us. We are thrilled and honored,” says Brian Shubert who founded Ady’s Army with his wife Chrissy. The organization is named after their daughter Ady, who has autism. “We are a literally a mom and pop non-profit. This is huge for us.” The organization’s goal is to “defeat the financial stress and loneliness caused by autism, providing resources one ‘piece’ and one family at a time.”

The festival will also be honoring National Armed Forces Day by offering Military Discounts to all active and retired military. Simply present your Military ID at the gate to receive $10 off your general admission ticket. General admission and VIP Tickets can also be purchased at www.bobsykesblues.com or at Bob Sykes Bar B Q Restaurant. Children twelve and under are free with a ticketed adult. †

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Music Notes: Steven Curtis Chapman

Music Notes: Steven Curtis Chapman

 Steven Curtis Chapman & The ASO Perform at Samford

Under the direction of conductor Chris Confessore, the Alabama Symphony Orchestra and Steven Curtis Chapman will perform live April 22 at Samford.

The Alabama Symphony Orchestra (ASO) is partnering with Samford University to present an evening of great music with multiple Grammy and Dove Award winning contemporary Christian Artist Steven Curtis Chapman. The ASO has been collaborating with Samford University to perform concerts in The Wright Center for several years, and the April 22 Chapman performance marks the third consecutive year The ASO and Samford have co-presented an artist.

ASO conductor Chris Confessore handles the logistics of bringing the artist and Symphony together in one crowd-pleasing performance. Per Confessore, his conducting serves “as a musical facilitator between the guest artist and the band.” Of the pairing of the ASO and Chapman, Confessore observes “Steven Curtis Chapman seemed like the next logical artist to present with Samford,” adding that the pairing is due in part to Chapman’s immense popularity, but also because, “he’s incredibly warm, and that reflects in his music and on stage.”

The first half of the concert will be a performance by the ASO who will then be joined by Chapman performing an overview of the songs for which he is best known. The ASO is the very first orchestra to perform this set of arrangements with Chapman. Confessore says about the collaboration, “Anyone who is a fan of contemporary Christian music would enjoy the program.” The concert is Saturday, April 22, at 8 p.m. in Samford’s Wright Center. To purchase tickets, visit alabamasymphony.org or call (205) 975-2787. Ticket prices range from $25 to $75.

  • Rachel Biddy

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Special Feature: Laura Story

Special Feature: Laura Story

WORSHIP with Laura Story

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Laura Story won a Grammy Award for Best Contemporary Christian Music Song, “Blessings” in 2012 and a Dove Award for Inspirational Song of the Year, “O Love Of God” in 2015. She is a native of Spartanburg, S.C. where she sang in the church choir as a child and played bass and keyboard as a teen for the band Silers Bald.

GRAMMY award-winning artist Laura Story was launched into the spotlight when her single “Blessings” spent 28 consecutive weeks as the No. 1 hit on Billboard’s Contemporary Christian chart in 2011. The song was inspired by her husband Martin’s diagnosis with a brain tumor, and it resonated with an audience that admired her candidness about adversity. Martin had survived treatment and surgery—but not without significant damage to his brain. What Story thought would be a detour in her husband’s health ended up the “new normal.”

Preparing to release a new album on March 3 and perform in Birmingham at Shades Mountain Baptist Church on March 9, Story celebrates the milestones she once wasn’t sure her family would reach 6 years ago. While still impacted by vision problems, short-term memory loss and a suppressed immune system, husband Martin has been able to work part time as a baseball coach. The couple also has three children—a four-year-old daughter and twin two-year-old sons. The Senior Worship Leader at Perimeter Church in Atlanta since 2005, Story says strong relationships in the church and the pursuit of a deeper understanding of worship have strengthened her as a mother, a wife and a songwriter in recent years.

“I was just with a group looking at Psalms 73, which talks about as believers the perspective change we experience as we come into the presence of God. And not just the presence of God—it talks about the sanctuary of God, referring more to corporate worship,” she says. “It’s a perspective change that happens when we meet in God’s presence with God’s people. That has been a lifesaver for me because when I do have those low moments, [I know] that if I belong to the Lord then I’m not walking through this alone. I have both His presence guiding me and comforting me as well as His people surrounding me and pointing me toward Him.”

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Laura Story and her husband Martin Elvington live in Atlanta, Ga. with their three children Benjamin Cary (2), Griffin James (2), and Josie (4).

Story published a detailed account of finding deeper intimacy with Jesus amidst her fight for her husband’s health in the book When God Doesn’t Fix It in 2015, and last year she began classes for a doctorate degree in worship at The Robert E. Webber Institute for Worship Studies. Focusing on how God’s people have worshipped Him throughout the ages and what God’s Word says about how He should be worshipped today, Story says what she is learning is helping her grow in her ability to coach her younger fans on being intentional about how they come together before the Lord. “The Lord continues to open up doors for me to be equipping this next generation. I don’t want to tell [them] this is how you worship, because I feel like God’s doing a new thing there,” she says, “but I do think there are good biblical principles I can instill in these young’uns then step back and see what God might do through them.”

Biblical principles of worship, Story explains, include prizing the reverence of God and making sure a worship service becomes a meeting place between God and His people, “where they get to hear the voice of God through the sermon, through the truths, and then they get to respond to Him through prayer and song and celebrate the things that He’s done.” She calls leading worship a “weighty responsibility,” a job not to be taken lightly or handed off to any person with musical inclinations.

At home, Story says teaching her children truths about God’s presence and expectations has been a blessing of its own. “As much as we strive to be good parents, we [will] fail, but [we point] them to the God who never will fail,” she says. “That’s what my parents did for me, and that’s what I’m trying to do for my kids.” Besides giving her children chances to catch her living out her faith or reading her Bible, Story makes home an atmosphere of grace and repentance. “I think about a time I lost my patience: my daughter was being unbelievably disobedient, and I totally lashed out at her. I went to her and said I need to ask for your forgiveness. I yelled at you, and I want to be more patient. Now it’s your turn. So she apologized to me for being disrespectful, and I said let’s pray together and ask God to make both of us more patient and more respectful.” Story admits, “It’s kind of a new concept for me–parenting like that–but gosh there’s so much about parenting that I’m learning, and more than anything I am just staying on my knees asking Him to show me the mom He wants me to be.”

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Hear Laura Story sing songs from her new project Open Hands and old favorites, March 9 at Shades Mountain Baptist. Her new project is available for purchase at Sanctuary Christian Books and Gifts in Alabaster beginning March 3.

Story’s new album, Open Hands, is a product of seeing worship not just as the words she sings but the very posture of her heart. “True worship is more than adoration; it’s coming before a faithful, trustworthy Father with open hands. Whatever comes, let me not respond with clenched fists as if I know best. It’s not just saying, ‘Hey you’re great God,’ but saying, ‘Because you are great, I want to give my life to you. Because you are trustworthy, I’m going to trust you with this hard thing.’ We buy into that myth that greater peace comes when we have greater control. But the Bible actually teaches that greater peace comes when we get to a point of letting go.”

Join Story in worshipping God through song March 9 at 7 p.m. at Shades Mountain Baptist in Hoover. The concert will benefit the Samford University Legacy League, which provides scholarships for students with significant financial need and challenging circumstances. For tickets, call 205-726-2853 or visit https://www.samford.edu/legacyleague.

 

-Camille Smith Platt

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Music Notes

Music Notes

Christmas in Four-Part Harmony at the Lyric

It’s 7 p.m. on a Monday night and the richness of four-part harmony begins to echo throughout the Fellowship Hall at Saint Mark United Methodist Church in Vestavia Hills. Director Matt Powell leads a warm-up session as Voices of The South begins its rehearsal. The men’s a cappella chorus is an award winning group of about 30 men who meet weekly to enjoy an evening of singing and fellowship. A part of the Barbershop Harmony Society, the group 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.

The group is hard at work preparing for their annual show “Christmas at the Lyric,” December 17 at 7 p.m. As the name reflects, the performance will be at the recently restored downtown Birmingham Lyric Theatre. The show is predominately a presentation of Christmas music but also contains a sampling of the chorus’ non-Christmas favorites. “Christmas at the Lyric” marks the 17th annual show the chorus has presented. “The show is extra special for us this year with the reopening of the Lyric Theatre as one of the great performance venues in the central Alabama area,” Wharton says. “In January of this year Voices of the South became the first act in 65 years to perform on the stage of the Lyric. Now with having our show there we are honored to be part of its entertainment line-up for 2016.”

Voices of the South stays active throughout the year. “We perform at various events and competitions,” says Powell. “We do a wide variety of music — old, new, secular, religious, patriotic, and of course, Christmas. And, our performances are family friendly. You never have to worry about being embarrassed by the content of our programs.”

Linc Parrott is the chapter’s Vice President of Membership. “We welcome all men of good character to be a part of our organization,” Parrott says. “Our oldest member is 86 years old while our youngest is 15. What we all share is a love of music and a respect for one another.” In addition to singing, Voices of the South supports Wings of Hope Pediatric Foundation, a local charity providing assistance to parents who have terminally ill children. For more information about Voices of the South visit voicesofthesouth.com. To purchase tickets to “Christmas at the Lyric,” go to lyricbham.com/events. †

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Music Notes

Night of Song Helps Children in Need 

screen-shot-2016-10-28-at-12-18-36-pmGrammy Award Winning singer/song writer Amy Grant’s recent visit to Birmingham marked the 10th Anniversary of the Auxiliary of the Big Oak Ranch and raised more than $57,000 for the 150 children who call the Big Oak Ranch home, www.bigoak.org. Grant sang to an enthusiastic crowd of more than 1000 at the Samford Wright Center and was joined on stage by children from the Ranch who thanked her for her efforts. Learn more about the Auxiliary and how you can help the Ranch by visiting www.bigoakauxiliary.com.

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Amy Grant with Exec. Dir. of Big Oak Ranch, Brodie Croyle with his wife, Kelli and Founder of Big Oak Ranch, John Croyle with his wife, Tee. Photo Credit: Dee Moore

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Caleb and Sadies from Big Oak Ranch thank Amy Grant for her performance. Photo Credit: Dee Moore

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Vulcan AfterTunes 2016

The stage is set for Vulcan AfterTunes 2016! This year’s series will feature two Alabama acts and one funky jazz group that will have you on your feet. The opening acts are local as well! It all takes place at Vulcan Park and Museum.

vulcanatjasonhi-23Dylan LeBlanc will perform with Duquette Johnston on September 25, Big Sam’s Funky Nation with Tragic City take the stage on October 9, and Amanda Shires with Jesse Payne perform on October 23. Chill out in Birmingham’s backyard with your lawn chairs and blankets and bring the whole family out to enjoy some of the country’s best rising entertainers. General admission is $15; Vulcan members and children ages 5–12 $8; children 4 and under are free. Ticket price includes admission to the concert, the Vulcan Center Museum and Vulcan’s observa- tion tower.

Tickets are available at visitvulcan.com or at the gate. Gates open at 1 p.m., opening acts begin at 2:30 p.m. and headliner acts begin at 4:00 p.m. Onsite parking is limited but shuttles will be available to overflow parking lots.

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