9/2: Our CommUnity Sings

Front row, left to right: Jonathan Elmore, Kim Eaton, Asa Balliett, Dorothy Williams, Haydon Carpenter 2nd row, left to right: Carol Ann Eaton, Lesa Gardner, Judy Johnson, Donna Davis, Judy Lawson 3rd row, left to right: Mark Freeman, Bonnie Vaught, Cheryl Kingrea, Treena Athey, Earl Johnson, Chris Smith, Bryan Stafford, Bucky Lawson, Thomas DeBusk
Front row, left to right: Jonathan Elmore, Kim Eaton, Asa Balliett, Dorothy Williams, Haydon Carpenter 2nd row, left to right: Carol Ann Eaton, Lesa Gardner, Judy Johnson, Donna Davis, Judy Lawson 3rd row, left to right: Mark Freeman, Bonnie Vaught, Cheryl Kingrea, Treena Athey, Earl Johnson, Chris Smith, Bryan Stafford, Bucky Lawson, Thomas DeBusk

On Sunday, September 2, 2018, from 3-5 p.m., Giles County residents will have a unique, family-oriented opportunity to strengthen community bonds by participating in Our CommUnity Sings. Hosted by the Giles County Community Chorus, this event will be like no other, and intends to build community in Giles County, while raising money for the Giles County backpack program.

Chorus members know strong communities don’t happen by accident. They’re built person-to-person, act-by-act, with purpose and dedication. It takes time, effort, and, most importantly, intent, to overcome the ever-present stresses that weaken healthy communities. Residents have to want to build a strong community. Our CommUnity Sings will be an effective tool to achieve that in Giles County.

Inspiration for this event began with GCCC Director Thomas DeBusk. “The GCCC is proud to foster and support community in Giles County through music, a universal language that everyone can enjoy, and—believe it or not—everyone can participate in!”

Our CommUnity Sings is an audience participation singing event. It’s not a performance, and it’s not just for seasoned singers. It’s something everyone who attends will do, not watch. Making music brings families, neighbors, co-workers, acquaintances—and friends you just haven’t met yet—together to celebrate community. There will be fun for everyone, even for people whose singing skills are rusty.

“I work with people every day who are in difficult circumstances” said DeBusk. “They’re not just short on opportunities. They don’t have the resources to meet their immediate needs. They need tangible help.” The Giles County backpack program provides weekend meals for some of those needy people—children in all three of Giles County’s elementary schools who might otherwise go without.

Half the proceeds raised by Our CommUnity Sings will go to the Giles County backpack program. For more details about the backpack program, visit gilescountycommunitychorus.com.

The GCCC expects to raise $2000 by filling all 400 seats in the Newport Community Center auditorium. To do that, they’re partnering with event sponsors, who will commit to attending, and bringing at least six other people. Said DeBusk, “Community stakeholders like Yvette Pennington and Carl Adams, our first two event sponsors, are the key to making this event a success.” He added: “Plenty of people can write a check, but money alone can’t fulfill our goals. People have to come—and participate—to get all the benefits.”

Event sponsors will earn recognition (and free advertising) on the GCCC web page, gilescountycommunitychorus.com. Sponsors need to sign up in advance and can add group members at any time. The GCCC also encourages sponsors to stoke friendly rivalries by challenging other family, friends, and maybe even business competitors like a bank across the street to become sponsors as well.

In January 2014, aided by New Hope Ministries, Jerry and Kaye Johnson asked Larry Marion to be the first director of the GCCC. Together, they created an organization founded on the belief that shared musical experiences bring people together in unity and purpose. Mr. Marion’s sudden passing in 2016 propelled the GCCC to transition into a self-governing organization with an elected leadership in February, 2017. Our CommUnity Sings is a natural extension of that initial community-building vision.

GCCC members enjoy singing, and the sense of community found in producing a unified choral sound. The group is not age-restricted, and focuses on learning and practicing good vocal technique in a fun format—that sometimes includes kazoos! They perform music from many genres including spiritual/religious, holiday, pop, country, patriotic, and their latest concert series of music from the 70’s.

In the past, the GCCC has performed at the Narrows Veteran’s Day ceremony, Pearisburg’s Festival in the Park, the county National Day of Prayer service, and Northside Presbyterian Church in Blacksburg. They also plan to sing at the Biltmore Estate’s Candlelight Christmas Program in Asheville, North Carolina on New Year’s Day, 2019. The GCCC has no audition requirements and encourages everyone who enjoys singing to give them a try!