The Dart: Music drives choir pres.

Published 12:26 am Monday, August 20, 2012

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Loretta Turner, left, holds hands with Deloris Bassett as they sing and pray at the end of the senior choir practice Wednesday evening at Christian Hope Baptist Church. “We are a group of people getting together just to express what we feel,” said Turner, the president of the senior choir. “Music quenches the soul.”

NATCHEZ — Music, for Maretta Turner, is about letting what is inside of you out.

And when The Dart landed on North Concord Avenue near Christian Hope Baptist Church last Wednesday, it found Turner — who is the church choir’s president — and several others doing just that.

The choir practices the first, third and fourth Wednesday of every month at the church, and as the group practiced one song Turner would raise her hand and interject phrases of praise between the lines of the song.

LAUREN WOOD / THE NATCHEZ DEMOCRAT — Elizabeth Turner sings with the rest of the senior choir Wednesday evening during practice at Christian Hope Baptist Church.

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“What I like about music is you can really use it to express how you are feeling about something,” she said.

“It can be rhythm and blues, jazz or rock, but it is about you. In a way, using music is a ministry to yourself.”

But Turner also said that the way church music works as a ministry to self is by working as a ministry to others. Because music can be so personal, using it to reach other people — and seeing it affect them positively — can rebound to the singer and be a blessing to them, she said.

“If I can touch you, I can touch me,” she said.

But being part of a choir is being part of something larger, Turner said, and it’s about bringing each person’s personal ministry to form one cohesive whole.

“When you can hear that coming together, when you hear the harmony, that is what makes a choir,” she said.

“Where there is unity there is peace and praise.”

For Elizabeth Evans, the choir’s vice president, spending the last 18 years practicing and singing with the group has been led by a simple motivation.

“I just love to sing,” Evans said.

Choir Director Ethel Scott said each week she and musician Billy Williams pick out songs that will go along with the church’s structured services.

They start with songs of praise and worship, utilizing both traditional and contemporary gospel music, Scott said.

Slower songs are usually geared toward solo performances, while for other parts of the service — for example, the offering — they look for something with a little pep.

“We want to do something upbeat and uplifting when we do the offering because the people will be getting up and walking down,” Scott said.

But regardless of the style of music, Scott said one factor is always considered.

“Always Christ is the center here, so all of our songs are about gearing people’s interest toward Christ, to move them toward salvation,” she said.

And that, Turner said, is what singing in the choir — letting what is inside of you out — is all about.

“Music is something that makes you comfortable,” she said. “When I sing my song, I sing from my heart. This is a talent God has given me that I can use to help someone.”