Arts & Entertainment

29th Annual Celebration of African American Gospel Music to be held Feb. 23

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The Alliance for African American Music (AAAM) in Northeast Georgia will host its 29th annual celebration in gospel music at 3 p.m., Sunday, February 23, at Cornelia United Methodist Church, located at 275 Wyly Street, Cornelia, Georgia.

The annual gospel concert is traditionally held in February to coincide with the national observance of Black History Month; its theme for 2020 is “Let everything that has breath praise the Lord!”

The AAAM’s mission is “to create an event…in which the love of music brings people from different backgrounds together, signaling our essential unity, strengthening our multicultural community, and building relationships that last…for generations to come.”

This year’s celebration includes selections by the Alliance Community Gospel Choir led by Portia Burns, the Bean Creek Baptist Church Choir from White County, the choir of Assembly of Praise @ Lula from Hall County, and the Voices of Hope, the acclaimed Lee Arrendale State Prison women’s choir.

Special performances by the current Lachicotte-Strickland Scholar, Piedmont College student Nicholas Knox, and by the Piedmont College United Praise Singers will be additional highlights of the program.

The main functions of the Alliance, conceived in 1989 by visionaries Rev. St. Julian M Lachicotte of Grace-Calvary Church in Clarkesville and Rev. Terry McCreary of Shady Grove Baptist Church in Cornelia, are to offer an annual music scholarship and to hold each year a celebration of African American music, “specifically…original Spirituals, arrangements of Spirituals, and historic or contemporary evolutions of sacred Church music originating in Black culture.”

A 501(c)3 non-profit organization, the AAAM is made up of a diverse group of volunteers from a number of local churches and the wider community.

This year’s program honoree is Andrea Harper, who stepped down from the AAAM board in 2019 after more than a decade of dedicated volunteering for the organization.

AAAM is supported in its mission by generous contributions from local government, businesses, organizations, and individuals, and donations offered at this annual celebration concert. Over the years, various places of worship around Habersham County have hosted the event, including Grace-Calvary Episcopal, Shady Grove Baptist, Bethlehem Baptist, Level Grove Baptist and Piedmont College Chapel. Cornelia United Methodist Church has been the venue for several years, and the AAAM is most grateful to the Rev. Johnny Ray and the church community for their continued support.

There are no advance tickets and the concert is free. During the program, a “collection of free-will love offering” is made in support of the AAAM’s ongoing scholarship program, the Lachicotte-Strickland Scholarship for an African American student enrolled as a music major, which was named in memory of Rev. Lachicotte of Grace-Calvary and the Rev. Guy Beacher Strickland of Shady Grove Baptist Church.

All are invited to attend and share in what is always a joyful, rafter-raising and soulful celebration.

For more information, contact Dr. Ann Nicely, Alliance for African American Music in Northeast Georgia at manicely@windstream.net or (706) 499-2946.

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