Thursday, July 10, 2014 —
Sunday afternoon, the Singing Americans of Stanly County presented its rendition of Randy Vader and Rose Aspinall’s patriotic cantata “Indivisible” at the Stanly County Agri-Civic Center.
The performance marked the nonprofit, nondenominational organization’s 25th anniversary.
Members say they are passionate about singing and sharing their love of their Lord and nation. Members pay their own expenses and all their shows offer free admission. Donations are the group’s only source of income.
In June 1989, the Singing Americans formed with 53 members from 22 churches. They have performed from New York to Florida and lots of places in between, including on the steps of the Capitol in Washington, D.C., and on the stage of the Grand Ole Opry in Nashville, Tennessee. Locally they have sung for the Southeast Old Threshers’ Reunion in Denton, Richfield’s Centennial Celebration and various nursing homes and civic events.
This year’s event featured 31 vocalists, ranging in age from their 20s to their 80s.
Joseph Helms, the youngest member, was just 1 year old when the organization began.
Helms explained his involvement.
“As a young person in grad school, who has some stress in their life, the Singing Americans gives me something positive that I can do weekly to reduce the stress in life,” he said.
“What better way to reduce stress than singing for God and country.”
Directed by Elizabeth Wilson and narrated by David Grotenhuis, the performance began by the singing of the National Anthem and the reciting the Pledge of Allegiance.
Next, in four-part harmony, the group paid special recognition to area veterans by singing a salute to the five branches of the armed forces. Those honored stood when their branch’s fight song was sung and Girl Scouts from Locust and Oakboro presented each veteran with a flag lapel pin. Military service flag bearers included: Army Sgt. E5 James K. Curlee, Navy ET2 (SS) Jeffrey Gardiner, (ROTC) Gary Cooper, Coast Guard; Air Force Staff Sgt. E5 Larry Courtney and Marine Sgt. E5 Steve Watson.
Throughout the musical, recognizing the U.S. as the only one founded on a creed, various members of the chorale were featured. Diane Jordan and Alan Medlin sang a duet during one number. Various soloists, including Denice Morgan, Rod Almond and Joe Burris, provided their individual voices to highlight different tunes within the cantata. A slideshow accompanied each song.
During the show, all former choir members in the audience were recognized. Four of Sunday’s performers, Claudette Burris, Diane Jordan and Avinell and Tommy Whitley, have been members of the Singing Americans for all 25 years.
Burris shared that since the chorale’s inception there have been lots of people coming and going, but she has remained.
”It is exciting to be part of it,” she said.
“It started with the ‘I Love America’ cantata which we performed several times. Now we have branched out to do a Christmas program and other patriotic musicals.”
At the close of the event, a raffle was conducted for a patriotic placemat picnic set and a beautiful handmade queen size quilt, denoting the Singing American’s 25 years of performance.
Those interested in joining the group are welcome to attend rehearsals for the Christmas show. Practices will begin on the second Tuesday of September at First Street United Methodist Church in Albemarle.
Sandy Hatley is a freelance contributor for The Stanly News & Press.