LAUREL HILL — Approaching this Christmas season, one local youth group went a step beyond getting into the Christmas spirit, instead creating a dose of spirit to share.
In August, the Laurel Hill First Baptist Youth Choir began recording a nine-track Christmas album at RonKay Productions in Fayetteville, under the supervision of Ronald and Karen Clark.
“The kids were excited, it was a fun project to record and the sound is amazing,” said Ronald Clark, formerly a member of prominent local gospel group The Clark Special.
“It was amazing to see their faces when they finished and they got a chance to hear. They were amazed that it was them singing, but we didn’t have to do much to get them to sound like that.”
The album was complete in a matter of seven sessions, the last of which took place in October. Titled “A Victorious Christmas with the Laurel Hill First Baptist Youth,” the album was recorded in honor of choir director Beverly Williams Dockery’s daughter Diamond Victoria Williams.
“She was a member here at the church and she passed in 2009,” said Dockery. “We did this CD in remembrance of her because she will forever be a member here. This year she would have graduated from Scotland. She was my heart, she still is my heart, and if it had not been for her I don’t know where I would be and I don’t even know if I would be with the children. They helped me through my situation.”
The choir involves youth ages 9 to 16, currently counting 13 members: Levia Monroe, Khaliah Cousar, Natalie Williams, Ny’Asia McQueen, Juhiyu Williams, DesMariah Morrison, Gabriel Wright, Christopher McLaurin, Casey Richmond, Deyonte’ McNeill, Deijah McQueen, Jo’Mia Smith, T’Kiyah Hunter.
Each track on “A Victorious Christmas” provides an original interpretation of a well-known Christmas hymn.
In “Mary, Did You Know?” choir member Deyonte’ McNeill found his favorite track on the album, while 16-year-old Jo’Mia Smith prefers the smooth, drawn-out notes of “O Holy Night.”
“I think this is the first time they’d actually heard their voice,” said choir leader Karen Cotton. “It’s a different sound recording in your house or on your cell phone than the sound in the studio. A lot of them were surprised by the different sound. When they first heard the CD played back it was kind of shocking: is that me?”
“A Victorious Christmas with the Laurel Hill First Baptist Youth” is available for $13 at the Gospel Music and Christian Bookstore on South Main Street or for $10 from the youth choir leaders.
Mary Katherine Murphy can be reached at 910-506-3169.