Natchez producer’s upcoming gospel recording is a first of its kind in Mississippi

Published 8:22 am Thursday, March 30, 2023

Nearly 2,000 people are expected to take part in a first-of-its kind gospel recording this weekend in Natchez.

Natchez native Dontrell Smith is producing a recording of the Voices of Vision Mass Choir at 7 p.m. on Saturday, April 1, at New Hope “The Vision Center,” 418 Morgantown Road.

Smith said this production is unique because it will be the first church choir recording of gospel music recorded and produced in the state.

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“It’s a first in gospel music history in the state,” he said. “This is the first time a professional recording will be attended by the public.”

The 30-member Voices of Vision choir includes “some of the greats in the church and choir industry,” including Mathina Mitchell, Angela Gilbert, Marcell Ratcliff, Samuel Hendricks, Arthur Gremillion, Minister Robert Murray and Raquel Speaks. Also participating are Pastor Debra Morton of Greater St. Stephen; C. Ashley Brown of Hezekiah Walker’s Ministry, Bishop Tyrone Jefferson of Full Gospel, Bishop Stanley Searcy of Natchez, Bishop Kevin J. Hollingsworth of Hattiesburg, Kennedy Rush and more.

“This will be a first in Mississippi because it will allow small, medium and large churches to be a part of the major recording and to learn about choir recording and what to do to make it the best you can be,” Smith said.

More than 1,700 people are expected in the audience, representing churches from across the Southeast.

In addition to being present for the recording, choirs and church representatives attending will have the ability to talk with musicians and choir directors to get a better understanding of how these experiences come together and are produced, Smith said.

The gospel choir will record eight songs. “They have been practicing all week,” he said.

Smith, a 2009 graduate of Natchez High, is owner of MMDJS Productions, which specializes in music and video production, live performance production, and branding. He said his desire to bring this experience to Natchez stems in part from his youth.

“I’m doing this production pro bono,” he said, adding that attributes his career to his experiences at his Natchez home church. “Everything I do in my professional life, I Iearned at that church.”

The event has been well-received and supported locally. Stacy Conde of Conde Contemporary gallery held a fundraiser for the effort last week.

Admission to the event is free and open to anyone would like to experience the service and the gospel music.  However, anyone would like to support the effort can make a donation via cash or check at the venue; via Paypal  at; or via cashapp, $followthevision.

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