Singers in Hopkinsville's Little River Music Society and musicians in Clarksville's Cumberland Winds will join together in an Americana-themed concert next month.
The free concert will be at 7:30 p.m. May 17 at Second Baptist Church, 720 W. Seventh St., Hopkinsville.
"We have gospel, spirituals, some patriotic, the band will do some marches," said Barbara Felts, director of the nonprofit Little River Music Society community choir. "There will be a narrator that weaves the songs together. (The narrator talks) about each song, why it was written, what that particular song was written for and how it all comes together with God and country."
The community choir is "40 members strong. Forty local voices and talent," Felts said. The group performs at least twice a year -- in the spring and around Christmas. The choir started practicing for the May concert in late January.
"I think they do a marvelous job," Felts said. "They work so hard and they want that level of excellence. We have a lot of good support from the community. We hope people will come out and enjoy what we have for the spring."
Under the direction of retired U.S. Army band commander and conductor Mike Ritter, Cumberland Winds includes "a concert band, big band, dixie band, jazz combo, brass quintet, woodwind quintet, and include a number of solo instrumentalists," according to the group website.
Felts said uniting the community choir with Cumberland Winds was the idea of one of the community singers. The groups performed together for the first time Friday at Madison Street United Methodist Church in Clarksville. In three weeks, the musicians will reunite in Hopkinsville.
"We hope to bring a smile to your face or maybe you'll tap your foot for a minute or two or maybe they'll come and forget their troubles for an hour they listen to the music," said Ritter, who served at Fort Campbell. "People from all different walks of life and different ages … there's always going to be something they will enjoy."
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Among the songs to be performed May 17 is "Prayer of the Children" by Kurt Bestor. According to https://kbestor.blogspot.com, Bestor wrote the song "out of frustration over the horrendous civil war and ethnic cleansing taking place in the former country of Yugoslavia." Since then, the song has been performed at solemn ceremonies including "the annual 9/11 commemoration, a yearly memorial service for the Columbine High School tragedy and a concert in memory of the Oklahoma City bombing."
"It's one of those when I first heard it, it gave me goosebumps," said Little River Music Society first alto Leslee Hamby.
"Can you hear the voice of the children?
Softly pleading for silence in a shattered world?
Angry guns preach a gospel full of hate,
Blood of the innocent on their hands
Crying Jesus, help me
To feel the sun again upon my face,
For when darkness clears I know you're near,
Bringing peace again …"
"This song just absolutely grabs you," said Mitchell Moore, community choir baritone. "It's so powerful."
Another song in the concert is "Homeland," which is an arrangement of the hymn, "I Vow to Thee My Country."
"(The hymn) was performed at Princess Diana's wedding and at her funeral," Hamby said. "It's not necessarily an American patriotic song, but the words absolutely apply to us. It's a strong song. It has that 'Star Spangled Banner' feeling."
In honor of the 100th anniversary of the end of World War I, Ritter said Cumberland Winds will perform a medley from "The Great War" era, including "Keep the Home Fires Burning," "Pack Up Your Troubles in Your Old Kit Bag" and "Over There."
Other concert songs include combined performances of "My Country Tis of Thee" and the folk song "Cindy."
"The folk song 'Cindy' has four hands on the piano, a full band, percussion. It just has everything in it," Felts said. "It's very detailed. It's very challenging. It's just a fun piece. They're just going to love it."
Both Hamby and Moore said the concert will inspire all who hear it.
"Some sacred patriotic (songs) bringing in the founding of our nation with the biblical foundation they put in the Constitution," Moore said. "Thirty plus of the people that signed the Constitution were ministers so they had a good foundation of what the bible says and what God means to them. A lot of the songs have that same connection -- the love for country, but the love for God as well."
"I think it's something special," Hamby said of the concert. "Not only do you get a piece of our community and Clarksville's community coming together, but you're going to see something that is so rich (with) patriotism -- all of us standing up and showing some pride in our country."
Reach Michele Vowell at 270-887-3234 or firstname.lastname@example.org.