Senior choir celebrates 100 concerts
    May 12 2010 by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor

    Milestones. Senior adults know many milestones mark life as you get older.

    But a milestone April 18 will hold a special place for some in Alexander Baptist Association as The Singing Seniors sang its 100th concert at Antioch Baptist Church in Taylorsville.

    “It’s a family affair of excitement,” said Kenneth Lambert, director of missions for Alexander Baptist Association.

    The associational group started 11 years ago and averages one concert a month.

    The 47-member choir is led by Robert and Shelia Austin, members of Antioch where Shelia has been the music director for more than 40 years.

    Shelia covers most of the directing duties and Robert sings in the choir and helps with public relations.

    “I do a little of the talkin’ and I try to help a little with the plannin’,” he said.

    At first the group sang from a wide repertoire but over the years “the Lord moved us into a totally religious venue,” Robert said.

    The Austins both worked in the education system and had retired. They anticipated their choir venture would last six to nine months, but it grew rapidly and within two months they had 40 members.

    “They were so reliable and dependable,” Robert said.

    The choir meets on second and fourth Tuesdays at a local senior center and uses the winter months to learn a new musical. They perform at churches as well as nursing homes or other venues. 

    “About once a month is about all our folks want to be away from church,” Robert said.

    The Austins try to limit their performances to Sunday nights within a short driving distance.

    One of the hardest things is losing members, Robert said. With poor health and age comes the inevitability of physical death.

    “At the same time you get to see a lot of beautiful people,” Robert said. “I don’t want it to end. I still get excited.”

    Robert credits Shelia with helping other choirs around the county.  Because of her direction the church choirs get better members.

    BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

    Shelia Austin, right, leads the warm-up for The Singing Seniors, a choir in the Alexander Baptist Association. The group performed its 100th concert April 18 at Antioch Baptist Church in Taylorsville.

    Plus, the music they purchase can be used by other area choirs.

    “I’m excited that we’ve endured,” Shelia said. “I’m amazed at the progress. It’s been a blessing to me personally to be involved.”

    Shelia said choir members range in age from early 50s to 80s. She’s thankful the associational leaders have been supportive. “It really became a pretty good investment,” Robert said. “I think it’s been good for harmony within the association.”

    Vivia Cline, a choir charter member, said the choir has been a good experience. “Sheila works with us,” Cline said.

    “It doesn’t matter if we make mistakes. She strives for better quality but most of all to praise the Lord.”

    Cline said Austin’s patience has helped her learn a lot.

    “We look forward to coming to practice,” said Cline, who sings with the Austins in a trio and in the choir at Antioch.

    “I thoroughly enjoy being with them,” Lambert said. “It’s a great fellowship. It’s not that we’re professional (but) we enjoy what we’re doing.”

    Rodney Boutwell, who recently retired as minister of music at East Taylorsville Baptist Church, worked with Austin on a Christmas musical about four years ago.

    Six area churches had done the same program so those churches decided to do a large concert in January for the community.

    Boutwell said the group “reminds me what it’s like to be a choir member.”

    “It’s good to keep the voice in training,” Boutwell said. “Retirement is a joy but you don’t quit.”

    Don Frye, who has been a member nine years, said the group means a lot to him and his wife, Brenda. They are members of Mount Herman Baptist Church in Taylorsville.

    “Our group has become so close knit,” Don Frye said. “It’s like we have a family reunion every second and fourth Tuesday. It could be only for one reason that they spend so much time with us. It’s a labor of love.”

    “That’s what (Robert and Shelia) exhibit to us,” Frye said. “They’ve truly been a blessing.”

    Related videos
    Interview with Robert Austin
    Interview with Shelia Austin
    The Singing Seniors perform Jesus, Hold My Hand
    Choir performs God’s Gonna Send a Revival

    5/12/2010 4:29:00 PM by Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor | with 0 comments

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