Charleston choir looks to ‘share the gift of music’ through concert in Albemarle

Nathan Nelson had a close-up of history a few years ago as his choir, Lowcountry Voices, provided background vocals for President Barack Obama during his rendition of “Amazing Grace.”

The powerful moment occurred during the June 2015 nationally televised funeral service for Rev. Clementa Pinckney, one of the nine African Americans killed during a mass shooting at Emanuel African Methodist Episcopal Church in Charleston, South Carolina.

As “heart-wrenching” as that day was for Nelson, who knew Pinckney and the other victims, he appreciated taking part in “something that is a whole lot bigger than you.”

“We still hold it in high regards to this day, as one of the things that was meaningful not just to our community but the world,” added Nelson, who founded the choir 10 years ago.

Nelson looks forward to sharing the same gift of music to people in Stanly County, as his Charleston-based choir will perform at 3 p.m. April 29 in the auditorium of Albemarle High School. LCV will present a culturally influenced program titled “A Musical Collage: Lowcountry Style.”

The free concert is a “gift to the community by the Stanly County Arts Council and the Stanly County Concert Association,” according to the Arts Council website.

“Our mission is to really preserve the legacy and traditions of African-American music literature,” Nelson said, noting his choir performs a variety of genres including Black gospel, spirituals and jazz along with classical repertoire from the likes of Beethoven and Bach.

The choir has attracted its share of devoted followers over the years, including New London resident Linda Sample, who has made many trips to Charleston to attend LCV’s concerts, noting she has even arranged vacations around their concerts.

“Lowcountry Voices music is much like a visit to the Charleston area,” she said. “You always feel better, more refreshed after a visit. They have the voice of angels.”

The choir will perform songs from the opera “Porgy and Bess” and the musical “The Color Purple” (based on Alice Walker’s 1982 novel), along with spirituals such as “Wade in the Water,” Nelson said. The concert should last about an hour.

“We are trying to put together a very well-rounded program…to share the gift of music,” Nelson said.

The best part for Nelson about his choir, which is comprised of about 45 to 55 singers, “is that it shows what America can really be, with everyone from different backgrounds coming together and singing in harmony.”

“We all have different backgrounds, all different musical backgrounds, all different religious backgrounds, but we call come together to share in this thing called music,” Nelson added. “I love it.”

When asked what he would like people to take away from his choir’s performance, he had one word: hope.

“Despite what may be going on in life, we want to give people a little hope,” he said.