AmeriGospel Inc. marks 30 years of praise, worship
Published 3:40 pm Wednesday, December 28, 2016
AMERICUS — This year marks AmeriGospel Inc.’s 30th anniversary as an organization that has aimed to preserve the art of praise and worship. AmeriGospel was founded in 1986, by Kelvin Pless as a unit for individuals of local and surrounding churches and communities to be exposed to the unique, yet changing expressive genre of gospel music. And it has remained as an organization that continuously provides workshops, concerts, and community activities.
The 30-year celebration will uphold that same spirit.
The theme for this year’s annual workshop and concert is “Family Reunion.” According to Pless, the objective of this theme is to encourage participation from everyone: returning and prospective as well as “seasoned” or “alum” individuals.
“We are encouraging anyone who is interested to join us in this year’s workshops and concert. There are no auditions. There are no cuts. AmeriGospel is about exposure. Honing and developing skills. Allowing people to use their talents in ways that they could not have imagined to praise and worship God. We are about family. We want to see children, young adults, and older adults come together for the celebration of our Lord and Savior. It’s a mass revival … and we are looking forward to a glorious time at both the workshops and the concert,” said Pless.
Additionally, the 30th year anniversary is also kicking off a new phase of AmeriGospel’s vision that has been developing for over the last five years. The 25th anniversary celebration focused on embracing the past, igniting the present while moving toward the future. Over the last five years, Pless and his staff have used this theme to continue to nourish and plant fruitful seeds for the ongoing evolution of AmeriGospel.
“AmeriGospel began as my baby but has matured into a community investment,” said Pless. “What began as only an idea to encourage the acceptance of gospel music’s transition within this small community has blossomed into this unexplainable spiritual energy that gets better and better each year. I know it is because of the Americus-Sumter County community and the other communities that we have touched. Without the support of these communities, 30 years would not have easily been reached,” added Pless.
As it is a “Family Reunion,” this year’s workshops and concert will feature clinics and performances from past musicians and participants. The workshops, like each year, are professional clinics that teach participants the most modern techniques of gospel music. They not only aim to enhance the lives of those who participate in the workshop but also give the participants a platform to enhance their skills. There are six featured workshops this year. Of the six, two are clinics that were once held several years prior: an Art Ministry clinic led by Americus’s own, Lacie Westbrook and a Percussion Workshop led by Brandon McCrae. In addition to these workshops, Americus native, Elisa Sanders Harney will facilitate a Music Ministry workshop; Alonzo Maddox will lead a Music Ministry — “Let’s Stay Together”; Dante Flowers will facilitate a Key Ministry workshop; and Gareth Hunter, a former musician with AmeriGospel, will lead a Band Ministry workshop.
“The goal of the workshops is to strengthen music ministries in local and surrounding churches. It is always our hope that the participants will take back what they have learned to their own church families and communities and continue to spread new ways and ideas of praise and worship,” said Pless.
“The workshops are dynamic and engaging performative interpretations of combining the traditional tenets of gospel music with innovative styles with still one focus in mind … allowing others to develop a spiritual bond and connection to God,” Pless continued.
In addition to those clinics, the primary/youth/adult dance workshops will be led by both Kevia Pless and Shernone Butts; the youth mass choir workshop will be led by Keisha Holmes; and the adult mass choir workshop will be led by Aaron Snipes III.
“If you are interested in participating and if you want to develop your skills, we encourage you to join us this year. If you want to be a part of a positive environment that is centered on worshipping and praising God, join us,” said Pless.
“Celebrating 30 years is a huge accomplishment. We will continue to blend the old with the new. This year’s concert will feature some old favorites within the song selections … a melody of classic favorites. We are hoping old dancers and old singers will join us, and perhaps, I may even consider directing at least one song or two,” added Pless.
Pless said the 30-year celebration marks AmeriGospel’s unwavering foundation in God, its growth in faith, and its richness in service.
“These last 30 years have been a humbling experience. Not only have we witnessed the many changes in gospel music, but a changing society as well. There are so many road blocks and detractors that make it challenging for people to take the road less traveled. We are all easily distracted. There is such a demand now from ministries to grab the attention of and encourage people to ‘walk by faith and not by sight’. We want to continue to allow people to be touched personally by the spiritual presence of our services. Having the workshops the last days of each year and the concert on the eve of the new year, positions us to remind everyone, participants and attendees, to begin your day and throughout your year and your life, with God by your side,” Pless concluded.
The workshops are scheduled for Wednesday through Friday at Bethesda Missionary Baptist Church located at 225 Forrest St. To register and view the dates and times of the workshops, visit www.amerigospel.org. The concert will culminate after the workshops at 5 p.m. Dec. 31 in the gymnasium of Americus-Sumter High School, 805 Harrold Ave.
— Submitted by AmeriGospel Inc.