JOYFUL NOISE: Zion Chapel AME Church’s annual Christmas concert is Friday Dec. 9

Published 3:32 pm Tuesday, December 6, 2022

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Editor’s note: An earlier version of this article incorrectly stated the date of the concert. The correct date is Friday, December 9. The story has been updated below.

NATCHEZ — As the words, “Jesus, Jesus, Oh what a wonderful child,” rang through the sanctuary of Zion Chapel AME Church at a Monday night rehearsal, bodies swayed back and forth and hands clapped to the beat.

Things slowed down for a verse of “Mary did you know,” accompanied with flute music by Sheri Brown. Tony Gordan’s fingers danced across the row of keys on the piano.

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All of this is in preparation for a Christmas Concert at Zion Chapel, an annual favorite holiday festivity for 30 years before the COVID-19 pandemic.

“We’re especially glad to have it this year because we haven’t been able to the past two years,” Tony Fields, the music director, said.

Zion Chapel AME Church will host its annual Christmas Concert Friday, Dec. 9, at 7 p.m.

The historic church is located on the corner of Martin Luther King Jr. and Jefferson streets.

While an African Methodist Episcopal church, Fields said Zion Chapel’s annual Christmas Concert has been known to attract a diverse crowd.

Historians know it as the church where the first Black man to serve in either house of the U.S. Congress, Hiram R. Revels, was a minister. A pipe organ reaches to the ceiling of the moderately-sized sanctuary, which tonight Fields anticipates being filled with roughly 200 church members and guests coming to hear Christmas music from a talented local choir.

“Every year the sanctuary is packed,” Fields said. “People come from all over to attend.”

The concert includes a selection of traditional Christmas carols and “good gospel singing” from a wide range of voices of all ages, from the children’s choir up through the adult choir.
“Soloists are Carlee Reed, Brittany Mitchell, Norma West, Michael Youngblood, Rick Todd, Lynette West Smith, Gene Jones and Tony Fields IV, and myself,” Fields said. “We also have Tony Gordon accompanying on the piano, Braxton Mitchell as the percussionist, Trey Mitchell on guitar, Fredrick Hawkins on saxophone and Sheri Brown playing the flute.”

The concert is free to attend, however, donations to the church will be accepted during a love offering, he said.