Gospel choir’s events so popular that a pair of shows are required

The Freedom Gospel Choir presents Glory Bound, another of its popular concerts, on Saturday, April 23.

The Freedom Gospel Choir presents Glory Bound, another of its popular concerts, on Saturday, April 23 starting at 7 p.m. and again on Sunday, April 24 at 2 p.m.

There’s a real need for two shows, too, because these events, held at St. Andrew’s Presbyterian Church at 531 Herbert St. in Duncan, always pack the place right to the doors.

Ann Antonides, who directs the group, chuckled last week when we mentioned the standing room only crowds.

“Yes, I know. We may to change the venue next year but this year we’ll do it,” she said.

So, what are they presenting in the way of music this year?

“We’ve got some southern gospel, like ‘Lead Me to That Rock’. We do a whole range, including early spirituals like ‘I Want Jesus to Walk with Me’ and ‘Do, Lord, Remember Me’. That one has a long history; the words we are using are probably from the 1900s rather than the early workaday song. These songs evolve over time. Then there’s ‘Jesus, the Light of the World and Operator.’”

Operator? That’s a real crowd pleaser. Who’s soloing?

“We’ve got Penny Ritchie, who used to sing with bands, and is now singing with the choir. She’s great.”

The choir will also perform three African gospel selections, including a “partner song” which features two versions of ‘What a Friend We Have in Jesus’.

Finally, the group’s accompanist, Tanya Gillespie, has arranged two gospel tunes for the choir: ‘Keep Your Eyes on the Prize’ and also Amazing, a contemporary gospel song written by Hezekiah Walker.

“Right now she’s said, ‘I’m writing a choir song.’ We’ll do that next year,” the director promised.

We had to ask Antonides if the audience gets so caught up in the infectious music that they want to join right in.

“Oh yes, so we have some sing-along numbers, too. We’ll start it off with ‘Glory, Glory Hallelujah’, and then ‘Swing Low, Sweet Chariot’ and finally ‘Give Me That Old Time Religion’.”

For the Saturday concert, the group’s guest is Joley Baker, who will be singing ‘Up to the Mountain’, about Martin Luther King’s famous inspirational speech, and ‘What a Wonderful World’.

On Sunday, the guest is Chuck McCandless.

“He’s also going to play the banjo for ‘Keep Your Eyes’ on the Prize. The soloist who’s doing that is a member of our choir and Chuck is going to join him for that number,” she said.

Admission to the concert is $15 for adults, with children 12 and under allowed in free. Get there early, though, if you’re hoping to get in.