By LINDA M. LINONIS
An interesting dynamic comes into play in the membership of Warren City-Wide Youth Choir.
The wide-ranging ages — from 5 to 30 — may seem daunting, along with the number of participants that averages about 70. It’s been as many as 120.
“The older ones help the younger ones, who look up to them,” said Pastor Todd Johnson. “It builds bridges between generations.”
The pastor said the younger children see the older members contributing and working in the community, while the older members are inspired by the exuberance of the younger ones. Together they are a choir that has generated funds for scholarships for its participants. “They can take pride in knowing they contributed to that,” the pastor said.
The audience can witness the talent and enthusiasm of the group when it performs at 7 p.m. Friday at New Jerusalem Fellowship Church, 2555 Palmyra Road SW, during the annual Dr. Martin Luther King Jr. Youth Celebration hosted by Trumbull County Dream Team.
Pastor Johnson said the choir members hail from some two dozen churches in Warren area. Participation in this larger group broadens their experience. “For many, they meet with other young Christians outside of a school setting,” he said. “It’s unifying.”
Pastor Johnson leads Agape Assembly Church, 426 Nevada Ave. SW, where the choir rehearses. “The music is traditional Gospel and contemporary Christian,” he said.
For the MLK program, the choir will perform a medley including music by James Cleveland and the Caravans, who represent Gospel music from Dr. King’s generation. “We wanted to do something to pay homage to the older generation,” he said.
Pastor Johnson said the music itself is an educational tool. He said the younger generation can learn about the foundation of the music they sing. “It’s high-energy Gospel,” the choir director said, adding the members clap and sway to the music.
Accompaniment is provided by a nine-member band of adults and youth.
He started the choir in 2011 when it sang at the Trumbull County African-American Achievers Association festival. About 55 young people participated. The choir presents about four concerts annually. Last summer, the choir hosted the third annual summer concert and raised more than $5,000 toward scholarships. Scholarships are awarded to choir participants pursuing higher education; last year, three scholarships were awarded out of $2,000.
“This empowers them when they see what they can do,” Pastor Johnson said of the money that is donated and contributed to the scholarship fund. “They benefit from it from their hard work.”
Pastor Johnson said he has witnessed a “sense of building community and camaraderie” among choir members. He said they see and appreciate one another’s success.
Information: Visit www.agapeassembly.com and Facebook.