April 14, 2010 Edition

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Williams Singers inspire

Music has always inspired me, and I consider myself blessed to be able to appreciate it. Hearing the Williams Singers of Williams Baptist College on Sunday was a special experience. The group performed a "Celebration of Worship" on Sunday at First Baptist Church in Walnut Ridge.

The Williams Singers consist of 34 students, along with Dr. Magee, director; Tracy Henderson, accompanist; Jason Burnett, assistant director; and Cody Hall, sound technician.

Dr. Bob G. Magee is in his 25th year at Williams Baptist College, where he is professor of music and chair of the Department of Music. As one person said, "the Williams Singers just keep getting better and better each year" and that this year's program was "the best yet."

The Williams Singers come from several states, including Colorado, Wisconsin, Mississippi, Illinois and all parts of Arkansas. Members listing Lawrence County as their home include Janai Powell of Powhatan, Chris Sloan of Black Rock and Janna Henderson, Stephen Wantulock and Stephen Watson of Walnut Ridge. We were there especially to hear cousin, Jason McNabb of Pocahontas, who is part of the group. Many in the group are majoring in music, music education or church music.

The hour-long program began with the group singing from the back balcony. They then made their way downstairs and up the aisles to the risers at the front of the sanctuary. The program included a variety of religious and spiritual songs, along with narrations of scripture verses that corresponded to the music.

The Williams Singers perform throughout the school year. Their first performance of the 2009-10 year was on Sept. 2 at the dedication of Manley Chapel on the WBC campus. They also performed at the Arkansas Baptist State Convention in November, WBC Homecoming-Parents Day, as part of the Northeast Arkansas Chorale at Christmas and then "A Day with Williams Singers" at WBC in February.

Since January, they have performed at a dozen Arkansas churches. On April 25, they will perform in both Oklahoma City and Tulsa. Their final performance of the school year will be May 8 at the WBC graduation.

If you get the opportunity, go hear them next year.


Redda Russell is a tireless volunteer for several worthy local organizations, such as the Girl Scouts, BRAD Head Start and as a supporter for our local Arkansas National Guard unit through their numerous overseas deployments.

She regularly secures community volunteers to read to the Walnut Ridge BRAD Head Start classes and coordinates other special events for the children there. This week, she coordinated a ceremony and other events marking Arkansas Children's Week at Head Start.

Redda said her own kids advanced years ago from the Head Start but she never left. Pauline Howard, another Head Start volunteer, said that "every town would be alright if they had a Redda Russell."

I have had the privilege of visiting Head Start to read a few times, and it is obvious that it is a first-class institution that cares for the needs of the children. Betty Cook, director, and her staff run a spotless, well-organized operation, where the children are nurtured emotionally and educationally.

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