These are exciting times for the 100 Men in Black. The all-male Durham chorus is moving up in a national competition, and also getting ready to release their first single.
"We're real excited about all the different kinds of things that we've been able and blessed and fortunate to do," says Marlon West, the MIB's long-time director. The group is in its tenth year, and specializes in gospel and inspirational music.
First, about the contest. The MIB made the cut and have been invited to the Regionals of the Verizon "How Sweet the Sound" national gospel music competition. They'll be headed to the Verizon Center in Washington DC next month for the event, and chartering buses so family, friends, and supporters can come along with them.
"The winner of the regional receives $10,000, and all expenses are paid for the entire group then to travel to Brooklyn, New York, for the finale in November," says West. "And if you win in the finale, you receive a check for $25,000."
North Carolina has already made its mark on that national competition, with Tarboro's Salvation and Deliverance Church winning the top prize last year. We'll see if the Tar Heel state can win it two years in a row.
West says the MIB has that goal, and they’re also planning their first single.
"We're having it written by Mr. Luther Barnes the gospel music recording artist out of Rocky Mount," he says. "And we are planning to perform that single at the Carolina Theatre for our annual concert along with Mr. Barnes on Sunday, October 14th, 5pm. Tickets should be available at the Carolina Theatre box office within a week."
Although the number "100" is in the group’s name, that's more of a goal than a reality. Right now the chorus consists of about 75 singers, ranging from boys to senior men. They’ll be auditioning for new members later this fall.
But as much as they love singing, West tells me the Men in Black also enjoy mentoring and serving.
“We love doing community kinds of things. Reaching out to young boys in the prison. We have developed a very strong relationship with C. A. Dillon (Youth Development Center in Butner). One of our big goals with that is developing relationships there, so that when one of those young males comes out of that prison setting they'll know -- for those of them that are local -- that they have a place where they can come and use their gifts and talents in a positive way.”
I’ll keep you updated on their progress in the gospel competition. In the meantime, you can enjoy the Men in Black’s rendition of The Star Spangled Banner at this link.
The Triangle Jewish Chorale is looking for singers for their upcoming fall and spring seasons. The first audition for the fall will take place Tuesday, September 4th, at the Levin Jewish Community Center in Durham. You don’t have to be Jewish to be a member of the Chorale, but you must have a desire to perform Jewish music in English, Hebrew, and Yiddish. Here's a clip of them in performance.
One church – thousands of locations. That’s the goal of Harvest America, an evangelical outreach of California-based Pastor Greg Laurie. This Sunday, dozens of North Carolina churches will join with churches across the nation and in more than 30 countries for an old-fashioned crusade using ultra-modern technology. Laurie’s proclamation of the Christian Gospel will be live-streamed via satellite to churches, theaters, coffee houses, etc. You can find a location near you at this link.
Should we be calling him “Big Preacher,” instead?
ABC11’s morning meteorologist Don “Big Weather” Schwenneker will deliver the sermon this Sunday at Holly Springs United Methodist Church. He tells me the subject will be “Grumbling Equals Stumbling.” It’ll be Don’s first time preaching at the church, where he serves as an assistant lay leader.