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Choir concert 'wonderful joy'

BRADENTON — There was singing.

There was clapping and swaying.

There was joy.

“Joy. Just joy. Wonderful joy,” Martha G. Cummings, a great grandmother, repeated at the 13th Avenue Community Center gymnasium Wednesday evening.

It was the site of the first Winter Concert by the United Community Centers Cultural and Performing Arts Department, and the old building swayed, too, from the sound of soaring young voices.

“The audience had the spirit,” said percussionist Desmond Bryant, a Manatee High School junior.

Oh, it did, indeed.

The humble surroundings were lit not just by Christmas tree lights, but the performances of the MHS Gospel Choir, who brought five members, and the youthful UCC Ensemble of more than two dozen children.

They moved the audience with nearly an hour of holiday singing.

“We practice 3-1/2 hours a day, and they paid us back tremendously,” said Linda Williams, the UCC Ensemble instructor. “There was a lot of energy. This is the first of many more (performances) to come, Lord willing.”

Mike Davis hopes so.

“We get to use our voices, performing in front of real people,” the Ballard Elementary School student said. “I look ance in front of real people,” the Ballard Elementary School student said.

“I look forward to it.”

Ditto for Antoine Price.

“It makes me feel good in my heart,” the PAL Elementary student said.

Words keyboardist Ederick Johnson wanted to hear.

The MHS sophomore did the arranging for the UCC Ensemble music, and his purpose was two-fold.

“The only type of music they know is rap, and we want to open them up to other music like gospel, jazz and such,” Johnson said.

“This brings the community together, shows people not all our kids are on drugs, on the streets, or are dropouts.”

Bob Gagnon knows that and the MHS principal, who was in the audience, wants to help.

“I want to make (MHS Gospel Choir) a class, give them training, the advantages everybody else has,” he said.

“The potential is tremendous and it’d be good for the school.”

It was a good for everyone in the old gymnasium, Cummings said.

“With all the other stuff going on in the world, you can still get some joy at something like this,” she said.

Vin Mannix, local columnist, can be reached at 745-7055, or write him at Bradenton Herald, P.O. Box 921, Bradenton, FL 34206 or email him at Please include a phone number for verification.