Obviously, Lee University — thanks to the national, and international, recognition it continues to bring to our community — has played a significant role. What has served as a gradual theme in recent years is now understood fact among those familiar with the four-year institute of higher learning. This stark truth among promising young students in the region, state, country and planet, states simply, “If you love music, enroll at Lee University.”
Such truth is self-evident. It became apparent most recently during Monday’s inaugural ceremonies in Washington, D.C., for President Barack Obama. Prior to U.S. Supreme Court Chief Justice John Roberts swearing in the president on the West Terrace of the U.S. Capitol, the voices of 200 Lee Festival Choir angels took flight across the National Mall.
We were moved by their beauty.
We were amazed by their youthful talent.
We were awed by the warmth in their voices that brought knowing smiles to our faces and tears to our eyes; such emotions were tell-tale signs that said these youngsters were our community’s own. Though many were not born here, all are our children whether they hail from Spokane, Wash., to Clearwater, Fla., to Flagstaff, Ariz., to Gloucester, Mass.
All are Lee University, and each is a worthy ambassador for Cleveland and Bradley County.
Truly, our community’s love for music is being greatly influenced by this fine university.
But Lee isn’t doing it alone. Others are contributing in equal fashion and through a like belief in arts appreciation.
One is the Allied Arts Council of the Cleveland/Bradley Chamber of Commerce, a volunteer-operated organization that has been responsible for many years’ worth of quality performances and community concerts.
AAC’s latest gift to our community comes tonight.
Kicking off at 7 p.m. at First Baptist Church, an AAC winter concert will feature the rhythmic sound and promising beat of Avalon, a higher standard in contemporary Christian music that has graced prominent stages and entertained vast audiences nationwide since 1996.
It should come as surprise to no one that two of the four vocalists comprising Avalon are Cleveland residents, Jeremi and Amy Richardson. Of like interest is that tonight’s concert will feature another familiar group — the Voices of Lee. These talented youngsters need no local introduction.
As for Avalon, these Christian artists have received three Grammy Award nominations while also earning six Dove Awards in their years together. Their achievements don’t stop with this array of time-honored accolades.
Avalon has sold more than 3.5 million albums, charted 22 No. 1 singles, and won an American Contemporary Song of the Year award for “Testify to Love.” This much-loved lyric has been specially re-recorded for Avalon’s CD, “Another Time, Another Place.”
Concert tickets are $10. Children 10 and under are admitted free. Tickets are still available at the Chamber of Commerce, The Red Ribbon and Fenimore’s Floral Design Studio. And, they may be purchased at the door.
Concert proceeds will benefit arts in education in all local schools. Allied Arts programs, including Chair-ries Jubilee, have contributed more than $250,000 in grants and artists’ appearances in Cleveland and Bradley County school systems.
After opening the week with voices of love in our nation’s capitol as a gift from Cleveland, let us now close the week with more lyrics of compassion ... only these are a gift to Cleveland.