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Gospel Music Awards to honor area talent

The voices of angels will be rewarded Saturday when the best ofarea gospel singers are recognized at the 2007 South MississippiGospel Music Awards program at 6 p.m. at the Alexander Junior HighSchool auditorium.

The program is open to the public and an admission fee will becharged. Advance tickets are available by calling (601)643-1500.

Regional and state celebrities, as well as public officials,have agreed to make the presentations of an 8-inch angel statue-reminiscent of an Oscar – to the winners, said Rose “Polly”Powell, an event organizer.

Gospel radio personalities Lance Fuller and George Winford willhost the program. The presentation will follow typical awardsshow-style, with presenters announcing the nominees and drawing thewinning entry from a sealed envelope, she said.

Presenters will include celebrities, public officials and gospelleaders drawn from throughout the southern half of the state,Powell said.

The nominations were open to any gospel artist or group whochose to participate and the winner was chosen by five judgespulled from a five-county area, Powell said.

“Sure, there were some disagreements, but they all cametogether,” she said. “The competition was so strong that the judgeswere up way past 1 a.m. trying to decide. It was tough.”

The awards will feature performances by the South MississippiGospel Choir and Praise teams, Renae Cothern, Charlene Banks,Lare’l Lane Johnson, The Redeemed, the Rev. Chuck McCall, PineGrove M.B. Choir, and others.

Some of the performers are nominated for awards themselves,Powell said.

The first Lifetime Achievement Award will be presented toLillian Lilly, of Brookhaven. Lilly has been a member of theMississippi Mass Choir since its inception.

“I have never heard her sing on stage when it’s all about her,so I’m looking forward to it,” Powell said. “She also has a verytalented family who will also perform together. We are alsoexpecting a professional artist to join her on stage. The artistdid not want to be made public because they wanted it to be allabout Lillian.”

The awards presentation is sponsored by South MississippiProductions, the “O” Foundation and Bank of Brookhaven.