By David A. Farrell, Item Staff Writer
The Picayune Item
Pearl River County supervisor and board president J. Patrick Lee said it almost made him cry.
Picayune Mayor Ed Pinero, Jr., said it caused him to have goose-bumps all over his body.
Just about anyone you talked to at the Martin Luther King, Jr., Day celebration on Monday said they were “blown away” by the 2013 Gospel Community Workshop Choir’s rendition of the song, “Awesome,” at the Rose of Sharon Church on Beech Street following the MLK Day parade from Pleasant Valley Baptist Church.
To say that the choir’s performance was “uplifting” is an understatement.
The choir, a creation of Pilgrim Bound Associate Minister and Junior Choir Director Lashunda Hopkins, ranges from small children to young adults, and when they all add their voices together, more than 50 of them, they produce a forceful presence that moves and touches your emotions, especially on a song like, “Awesome.” The decibels are off the chart.
Hopkins said “Awesome” is a song that Carolyn Griffith Smith of Pilgrim Bound discovered and presented to the choir, and then taught it to the choir during its recent annual concert festival at Pilgrim Bound, which was attended by churches, choirs and music directors from throughout the area and even from the Gulf Coast. Pastor at Pilgrim Bound is the Rev. Delbert Hall.
The music festival is held every year in January and the choirs get together and learn different songs and then present them in a giant song-fest on the Saturday night at the end of the festival. They also get together, fellowship and study the Word of God during the community concerts.
“The Martin Luther King Day celebration was so close, and Etta Scott asked us to perform, and we decided to do it, and we were blessed,” she said of the performance at the MLK Day festivities. Scott was the chairperson for the MLK Day festivities.
“We were blessed and were received so well by everyone,” she added.
Hopkins says the Lord told her to form the choir seven years ago, and “I told the Lord that I would do it, and I didn’t care if only three showed up, I would do it for his glory alone.”
The idea caught on and the choir has grown larger every year.
Hopkins said the choir will perform in other churches, if an invitation is extended. She said churches wanting to invite them to sing can call 601-916-4067. She also said the group accepts contributions to help defray expenses.
“I tell the choir all the time that all that we do is for the Lord, and only what we do for him will last,” she said.
Hopkins said that those who sponsor the concert are thinking about holding it twice a year instead of just annually.
She said at first just the children came, and then, after hearing how good it was, the parents started coming.
“I always remember that only what we do for Christ will last, so I work, and pray and labor in his kingdom, and all I do is for his glory,” Hopkins said.
She said the choir is trying to attract more male singers now.
“I tell the members that we are not here just to entertain, but to point people to Him. We are to give God the total glory, I tell the members,” Hopkins said.