Carol Allen is always glad to see returning singers, even if they are just returning to report on the choir! Carol welcomed me when I walked into the rehearsal hall on April 19 and encouraged me to take a seat among the altos and sing with them. While I didn’t stay for the entire evening, I did sit in during the warm-up exercises, then got busy taking photos of Carol and the Northeast Texas Choral Society rehearsing their June 2021 Spring Concert selections.
Pictured here with longtime organist Deanna Spraggins, Carol draws out the very best vocals from every member of the choir. Students are instructed to sit forward on their chairs with both feet firmly on the floor, and with spines straightened and chins lifted. Then, a vowel exercise for sopranos, tenors basses and altos alike puts them all on the same page. They chant Ma, Me, Mi, Mo Mu with Carol until everyone is pronouncing their vowels exactly alike. Just as coaches continue to teach fundamentals to their athletes, so Carol ranks the fundamentals of singing highly at rehearsals. Then, with warm-ups behind them, over the next two hours the choir worked through the nearly two dozen beloved spirituals, hymns and gospel numbers selected for Spring Concert.
Loyalty is apparent among the singers. Although there were a few fresh, young faces, I recognized several charter members still singing after 20 years. About 80 % of the choir is made up of long-time members of ten seasons or more and in all voice parts. And after so many years together, their voices have begun to blend intuitively as siblings often do. The musicians are returning members too: Paul Clark, Percussionist; Ken and Denise, Pianists; Jeff Smith, Woodwinds; and Ben Scarbrough, Bass Guitar. A few more instruments will be added to make up a small orchestra by concert weekend.
Notable concert selections include ‘Nothin’ Gonna Stumble My Feet’, ‘A Mighty Fortress’, ‘Down to the River to Pray’, ‘Guide Me Oh My Great Jehovah’, ‘My Soul’s Been Anchored in the Lord’, “I’ll Fly Away Medley’, and ‘Oh When the Saints Go Marching in”. This concert is sure to be moving, rousing and inspiring, and according to Carol, ‘just what the community needs!” It’s set for June 12 and 13, 2021. Ticket details will be announced soon.