By Sheena Barnett/NEMS Daily Journal
TUPELO – As any good gospel show should, the Monthly Music Mix gospel concert at the Link Centre on Sunday brought audience members to their feet with tears in their eyes.
The concert is a part of the Link Centre’s Monthly Music Mix, a monthly concert series that features a different genre of music with each concert. Previous shows featured singer-songwriters, blues, rock ‘n’ roll, country, bluegrass and jazz, and in the name of diversity, this gospel was meant to be doubly diverse. The gospel concert featured both black and white gospel performers including The Blackland Gospel Trio, The Three Tenors of Plantersville, Zell Long, Lavada Shannon, Sara Plunkett Jim Long Livingston, Rev. Lee Howell, James and Nicky Harris and the Link Centre’s executive director, Melanie Deas.
“All of these different styles of playing and singing, it’s just great,” said Janice Scales, a retired music teacher with Tupelo Public Schools who emceed the concert. “This is a drop in the bucket of people who play around here.”
Many of the artists received standing ovations from a rapt audience. Long’s moving rendition of “His Eye Is On the Sparrow” had many in the audience wiping away tears, and later many were on their feet for the Tupelo Unity Choir’s rousing “When the Saints Go Marching In” and “Reach Way Down.”
Lavada Shannon performed a metered hymn, “I Love the Lord,” with the Blackland Gospel Trio backing her up.
Father-and-son guitar team James and Nicky Harris brought a bluesy, soulful sound to “Jesus is a Miracle Worker,” while pianist Jim Long Livingston wowed the crowd with his versions of “Peace in the Valley” and “Just a Closer Walk With Thee.”
Deas and singer Sara Plunkett covered “Down in the River to Pray,” and the Three Tenors of Plantersville performed pitch-perfect versions of “I’m Redeemed” and “A Mighty Good Day,” before leading the audience in singing “I’ll Fly Away” as the show’s closing song.
CeCe Jackson of Tupelo said she loved every minute of the gospel show.
“God doesn’t discriminate; we’re all his children,” she said. “The spirit was definitely in the place. We had a Holy Ghost time.”
The Monthly Music Mix series continues with bluegrass band the New York City Slickers on Oct. 11; jazz artist Michael Jefry Stevens on Nov. 2; singers Calvin and Jauna Ellis presenting a Christmas program on Dec. 23; and blues artist Grady Champion on Jan. 12.
“We have incredible musicians in our area,” said the Link Centre’s Shawn Brevard. “We feel it’s important to offer diverse shows.”