People from all over Northeast Georgia visited Cornelia Methodist Church Sunday to enjoy the joyful sounds of gospel and praise.
On February 23 the Alliance for African American Music (AAAM) in Northeast Georgia hosted its 29th annual Celebration of African American Gospel Music. It was standing room for the crowd of around 250.
African American Gospel is a form of spiritual and rhythmic music that was developed in the south by African-American churches in the 1930s. Each year, this event is held during February, which is recognized as Black History Month nationwide.
One of the event organizers and AAAM member, Dr. Ann Nicely, says the concert “fulfilled our mission statement” to create an event “in which the love of music brings people together.”
Doris Davenport, who has written many Black History Month articles for local publications, has attended this annual event for many years.
“Thanks to the Reverend and our wonderful board, we have been able to keep this event going for almost thirty years,” says Davenport. “The longevity, creativity, dedication, and richness of this program help everyone celebrate traditional African American music.”
The concert is also a celebration of diversity within the Northeast Georgia community. There’s a sense of joy and unity that surrounds the event. From the choir leading traditional songs to concert-goers offering hugs and laughter, not a single soul is left stagnant or untouched.
Keeping music and memories alive
This year’s rafter-raising concert included performances 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.
The afternoon included special performances by Piedmont College’s United Praise Singers and Piedmont College music major Nicholas Knox.
While the concert is free, a love offering is accepted to raise money for the Lachicotte-Strickland Scholarship. This scholarship is awarded to an African American student enrolled as a music major.
Knox is the current Lachicotte-Strickland Scholar.
The scholarship was named in memory of two former local pastors, the Rev. St. Julian Lachicotte of Grace-Calvary Episcopal Church in Clarkesville and the Rev. Guy Beacher Strickland of Shady Grove Baptist Church in Cornelia.
Nicely says she’s “very pleased” with how this year’s concert turned out and is already looking forward to the event’s thirtieth anniversary next year.
By: Rylan Pugh | Now Habersham