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Local gospel singing group draws national spotlight

PHOTO SUBMITTED / Members of the Soul Fire A Cappella Gospel Singers are (standing from left) Derrick Chism, Dedra Edwards, Stacey Roberts (a 2012 group member), Ky-Yahma Williams, Jarius Kelly, (seated from left) Justin Blue, Andrea Blue, Larry Brown and Clara Nunnery.

PHOTO SUBMITTED / Members of the Soul Fire A Cappella Gospel Singers are (standing from left) Derrick Chism, Dedra Edwards, Stacey Roberts (a 2012 group member), Ky-Yahma Williams, Jarius Kelly, (seated from left) Justin Blue, Andrea Blue, Larry Brown and Clara Nunnery.

Brookhaven gospel group, The Soul Fire A Cappella Gospel Singers, will be getting national recognition Saturday when they perform at the American A Cappella Achievement Awards program in Dallas, Texas.

The event, which is being held on the Mountain View College campus, begins at 5 p.m.

The eight-member local group has been nominated by A.R. Records of Mesquite, Texas, for a national gospel artist honor called the Rising Star Award. The record company produces the awards show, which according to its website, is designed to “honor artists, preachers, choruses, trailblazers and others for their contributions to a cappella music.”

Larry Brown, Soul Fire business manager and one of the founding members that started it all in February 2006, said the group is honored to have been nominated, and they feel especially honored that their group has become recognized for their musical accomplishments in a part of the U.S. they’ve never been to.

Brown said the group’s roots are with the Center Street Church of Christ in Brookhaven, but there are also members who are from Bogue Chitto Church of Christ. He said they are also very proud to have as their music director Sister Dedra Edwards, the music teacher at West Lincoln Attendance Center.

“It really means a lot to us,” Brown said of the award. “We’ve never been to Texas and have never been west, and for the name of our group to be an influence there really humbles us, and we are honored.”

Brown said the group recently traveled to Jackson, Columbus, Birmingham, Ala., and St. Petersburg, Fla. to perform.

“We have performed at weddings and funerals,” he said, “and we have sung at churches that are not Church of Christ.”

He said the group enjoys spreading the purpose of their mission outside of religious circles.

“Last year we performed at the Zeta Phi Beta Debutante Ball – that was great – we enjoy doing events outside of church, too,” he said. “We want to edify our brothers and sisters, glorify God and introduce to Christ those who haven’t been.”

Brown said the group has received recognition from churches and groups for sharing their music and spreading the gospel, but this will be the first award they have received for their musical accomplishments. He said the record company that nominated them for the Rising Star Award voiced the opinion that the group had a bright future ahead of them.

“This will be our first major award. And, from what I have gathered,” Brown said of the nomination, “it is that … even though it is a younger group, those at A.R. Records believe that we will prove to be a group that lasts. It hasn’t been a smooth road, but life is difficult and we are still together.”

Soul Fire has released three records since they began, “Remembering the Old Time Way,” “Still Running,” and the last record released in March of 2012 was “Y.U.P.” (Yearning for Unlimited Praise).

Brown said after the awards show they are going back into the recording studio – Studio 3 in Hattiesburg – to put together a new album to be released in early 2014.

Current members of the group are Derrick Chism, Dedra Edwards, Justin Blue, Ky-Yhama Williams, Andrea Blue, Clara Nunnery, Jarius Kelly and Brown.

To learn more about the American A Capella Awards visit their website at www.arrecords.tripod.com, or call (469) 386-5501