Five sopranos will sing spirituals at JCA concert

Published 3:00 am Friday, February 3, 2017

The Johnson Center for the Arts will present “An Afternoon of African American Spirituals” at 3 p.m. Sunday, February 12 in the JCA Gibson Family Gallery.

The concert, to benefit the Johnson Center, will feature Shelia Jackson and LaShea Money of Troy, Anna Moore and Tommye Cargill-Easterly of Montgomery and Ashley Knight of Prattville.

“This will be a goose bump performance,” said Vicki Pritchett, JCA director. “‘An Afternoon of African American Spirituals’ will feature five ultra-talented sopranos and, if their voices won’t give you goose bumps, I don’t know what will. I’m looking so forward to hearing these incredible women in concert.”

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Pritchett said spiritual music is a staple of the South.

“If you’re from the South, then spiritual music has been ingrained into the celebration of your faith,” she said.

The five sopranos will be accompanied by pianists Henry Terry and Milton Williams and saxophonist Patrick Jackson.

“The musicians are as wonderfully talented as the singers,” Pritchett said. “Henry Terry has played at the Johnson Center and will be familiar to many.  He loves to play at the Johnson Center because the acoustics are “outstanding” and he loves to play our 100-year-old piano.

“Henry Terry is an accomplished pianist, as is Milton Williams, and we all know what an amazing musician Patrick Jackson is. I’ll say again, this will be a goose bump performance.”

Terry said the program is made up entirely of African American spirituals, including familiar favorites “Still Away,” “Swing Low, Sweet Chariot,” and “Were You There?”

“The program will include about 15 songs and the background of some of the songs will be given. We’ll also have program notes for all the songs,” Terry said.

“Some of the spirituals will be sung in the original arrangements. Others will be contemporary arrangements.”

A dessert reception will be held immediately following the concert and everyone is invited.

“The reception will give everyone a chance to meet the singers and the musicians and also have an opportunity to meet the artists whose work is on exhibit in the Johnson Center’s lower gallery,” Pritchett said. “Debra Riffe’s ‘I learnt to sing a glad new song’ and Belinda Harrison’s ‘Varieties’ are great examples of the artwork being done by African American women who are practicing their art under difficult circumstances. Their work has been very well received.”

Pritchett said the combination of the program of spiritual music and artwork is a great way to celebrate Black History Month and to highlight the depth and breath of talent in the African American community.

‘These women all have something very special to share and they are making a difference in today’s world,” she said.

“An Afternoon of African American Spirituals” is a fundraiser for the Johnson Center for the Arts. The $10 donation includes the dessert reception. Seating is limited. Tickets may be purchased at the Johnson Center for the Arts, 300 East Walnut Street in Troy or online at