Gospel group responds to ‘Higher Call’

Published 12:00 am Friday, April 13, 2001

Members of the gospel singing group Higher Call believe they have received just that – a calling from God to the music ministry.

&uot;We all feel God has called us to this,&uot;&160;said group leader Jodette Stevens. &uot;Music can be used as a type of outreach, to set the stage for worship, … for so many things.&uot;

Higher Call’s five members – Anthony Gagnard, Charles Stevens, Jodette Stevens, Susan Warren and Summer Weathersby, ages 14 to 35 – sing a mix of gospel and contemporary Christian music.

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&uot;It’s a mix of praise songs, both Southern gospel and contemporary, because there’s a wide range of people we’re trying to reach,&uot; Jodette Stevens said.

&uot;There’s a message in every song – you just have to be open-minded to what the song is about,&uot;&160;Gagnard said.

The group will hold concerts on April 21 at Elmo Baptist Church near Fayette and on April 22 at Springfield Baptist Church on Liberty Road. Later, they hope to branch out to sing at more churches and at other venues as well.

Although the group was only formed several months ago, its members all started out as members of Springfield Baptist’s praise team. &uot;The team is made up of anyone who wants to sing in the worship services,&uot;&160;said Stevens, who doubles as a keyboard player.

But members of the group the church would name Higher Call believe they also received individual callings from God.

&uot;For me, my calling started about two years ago, around Christmas time, when my sister Susan asked if I&160;would sing with Jodette at Christmas,&uot; Gagnard said. &uot;I&160;started with the praise team then and worked up to the group. Music is my passion anyway – I&160;love any kind of music.&uot;

&uot;My grandmother, my aunt, … my whole family sings. All I&160;needed was somebody to show me the way,&uot;&160;said Weathersby who, at age 14, is the youngest of the group.

Weathersby pointed out that in the Baptist denomination, women cannot preach, and she is too young to teach Sunday School. &uot;But singing,&uot; she said, &uot;was something I&160;could do. It gives me self-satisfaction and peace.&uot;

And each member believes that music is as integral a part of the worship experience as anything else.

&uot;It sets tone for preaching or a revival service,&uot;&160;Gagnard said. &uot;Not only that, but while people might get a blessing out of preaching, they might be blessed by the music just as easily.&uot;

Music also brings variety to a worship service, Weathersby said. &uot;People that aren’t normally interested in church might rather hear music,&uot;&160;she said.