The Battle of Roane County Choirs…

                Your church choir had better come with it on Sunday if you lived in Roane County. If your choir director did not know how to double clap when everybody else was single clapping, you might as well had let the old folks sing that Sunday. Truth is, no one wanted to hear the old folks sing back in the day. One would say that you must have musical instruments to have a great choir but you apparently don’t know the capabilities of Johnny Holler and da Eskridge family; led by twin sister’s Mae and Mary and cousin JC. Oooh, they would tear a church up without a drum set or a piano. Especially when Jason and cousin JC would sing Roll Jordan Roll or When I Die, I wanna go to Heaven… Mmm; I just had to stand up and walk away from this post for a second. JESUS!  You know you bad when you singing solo’s at age 7 in a Mass Choir, Amen. The next stop is Speight’s Chapel where you had to climb that long azz stairway to hear Valonda, Costella and Earlene an’nem… By the time you reached the Great Wall of Speight’s Chapel, and open those church doors to hear Valonda sing Liberty; you knew church was in session; Yes Lawd she shut it down!!!

                 Oh, it doesn’t stop there though. Let us travel to Kingston, to Braxton’s Chapel where Sister Billi Hamilton who is the President of the church choir would have her brother John belt out his favorite song, I won’t complain, so good that folks from Greenwood Street would leave they church to hear him sang. Now this is when it gets very serious, grab ya tambourines because we are going to Sanctified Hill in Harriman. For those who are unaware of this location; once you get past Blackmon’s house; you have entered Sanctified Hill. This is located tweenst the Triangle Park region; starting with New Century Baptist were Springtime ran the choir. You gotta be cold if your nickname is Springtime and have a voice that made the Mother Board holler out; TAKE ME NOW JEESUS when he sung Precious Lord!!! Now, I have never been into the Barksdale church; which was located next to Mrs. Bazel’s house but I’m pretty sure they put it down. You tend to have some churches that you gotta use the Cedric The Entertainer – Luther Vandross Jheri Curl phrase on… They just didn’t; they didn’t quite curl over when their program announcements were read over by the First Lady during morning service. Stay with me Jesus; I’m gone need one’nem Mahalia Jackson fans’ when I talk about why this area is called Sanctified Hill in the first place. We are at Mark’s Chapel, pre Believer’s Voice of Deliverance, where the Douglas Sisters are at the wheel.  Yeessss Lawd, when I tell you these sisters can sang, dey can sang… When Sister Margie get to playing that piano and her glasses slip down just a lil bit and she hit one of those repeated fast notes on that piano while her sisters are singing in harmony; oh somebody in the congregation GONE PASS OUT!!! One thing you bet not do is let Sister Margie sing a solo at a funeral, no lawd!!! She sang so good, she’ll make you jump in that casket with your loved one. Scoot over, I’m going to Heaven with you cuuz, lemme get a piece of dat pillow too playa…

                 Last but certainly not least; St Mary’s Baptist church where Sister Alicia is the choir director, Sister Bunny is on the piano, Brother Harold is on the drums and the Young Adult choir makes one; Amen and Amen. You could not just walk up and say you want to be in this choir, no sir, no ma’am… You had to put in work first. In order to get to the Young Adult choir, you had to start in the Sunshine Band and then onto The Junior Red Circle and just maybe, just maybe you’d receive an invitation to sing in Sister Alicia’s choir. The March into the congregation was spectacular, ending with the choir director steadfast tweenst the first two rows. If Alicia stood outside the pulpit box on Sunday and was standing in front of the In Remembrance of Me table; they had 3 new songs… She had to make sure that everyone in the choir was all eyes on her; like she was Tupac. You could tell when Jill caught the Holy Ghost because she showed her braces and rubber bands. We were on the front row, saying, “Look she got braces yawl and she light skinned.” Get the behind me Satan, I rebuke thee!!! When Alicia directed the choir to sing their new songs WITNESS and Salvation and Glory; Mmmm they would make the old deacon in the corner stand up and run around the church like he was gangsta walking at Skinny Miller’s… (Nightclub spot in da Holler, up da hill from Mrs. Weasel’s). I could never tell who had the best choir in Roane County but one thing is for sure, we had many talented singers and at any given Sunday, you would witness a blessing from those who are truly gifted.


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