Since Canton is one of the cities I cover for The Clarion-Ledger, I am a member of a Facebook page created by residents of the city called “Canton: Home. Heart. History.” I get lots of good information and story ideas shared by residents and it’s mostly a tool for conversation and information sharing. It’s always positive, and that’s what I appreciate. Not long ago I saw a post by Tameka Clincy and Lise Foy (President of the Canton Chamber) about starting a community choir to revitalize and revive the city. Being in choirs for most of my life, it got my attention and I wanted to attend their second rehearsal.
At the Welcome Center in the Trolio Hotel, I arrived to see familiar faces. Just under 15 people, men, women and a couple youngsters sat in rows and talked amongst themselves. They were excited! Four musicians were in front on two keyboards, a bass guitar and an electronic drum set (which didn’t have cables for the rehearsal, so it wasn’t used). After some warming up, the assistant director John Woodward arrived. Woodward is pastor of The Ark of Safety Ministry in Canton.
The songs they rehearsed were “You are good,” “Holy Spirit you are welcome here,” “How great is our God,” “My life is in your hands” and “I am a friend of God.” I enjoy all of these songs, and the choir did their best in parts and sounded good. They agreed they needed one more rehearsal.
“Is everybody okay with the flow, are you okay with the format?” Woodward asked. Majority of the choir nodded their heads. After several tries with the first verse of “Holy Spirit you are welcome here,” an alto said, “Help me Lord, help me Lord,” signifying she had trouble with some notes. Woodward encouraged her by saying, “He will help, he will help.” The rehearsal had a good flow and the spirit was positive and unified. The choir members paid money for their T-shirts and left excited for the next rehearsal. Woodward believes the choir will help turn the city in a positive direction.
“I believe people will be blessed because our city desperately needs it,” he said before closing prayer. “With all our city is going through, our city desperately needs prayer.”
Fran Powell of Brandon is one of the keyboard players. She is a substitute pianist for First Baptist Church in Canton, where choir director Rev. Barry Pounds serves as pastor. Powell also is excited for what’s to come.
“I think that it has originated from the hearts of God’s people,” she said. “It’s a true endeavor for us to glorify God together. It’s Christian camaraderie.”
Cantonians have such a nice and gentle nature about them. Nearly two years ago, they welcomed me as a member of the media and every resident has a great story. Politics in the city, however, are mixed because of tensions due to opposing parties or people opposing the mayor and his supporters. Whatever the case may be, just about every person in the choir (and on community blog posts and soundboards) agree that Canton needs serious uplifting and unity. And the choir and weekly prayer at the Square on Sunday aim to do just that.