Greenville native bringing gospel program to county

Published 3:57 pm Friday, May 24, 2013

Contemporary gospel is here to stay, but one former Greenville resident hopes to bring back that old-time jubilee brand of singing.

Musician Joe Smith, member of J&C Gospel Promotions, will be serving as host to a gospel program aimed squarely at such an audience tonight at 7 p.m. at the Shade Community Center.

Smith, who was born in Greenville but left at an early age, said that many residents have asked about bringing such a program to Butler County for an audience who can appreciate what music from the olden days used to sound like.

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“You have the young kids nowadays singing, and all they sing is contemporary,” Smith said. “But you’ve also got elderly people out there that don’t necessarily want to hear that. They’re used to that old, unique quartet singing, and that’s what I’m trying to keep alive.”

Joining Smith will be the Southern Sons, a gospel group based in Memphis, Tenn., several acts from Smith’s current residence, Marsh Point, Miss., and some local talent from within Butler County.

Alongside the many changes to the music scene in Greenville, Smith said that he’s also noticed far more important developments within the city.

“A few years ago, I used to come to Greenville and there was a drug dealer on every corner,” Smith said. “I asked my uncle what happened here since, and he said that the police chief here put a stop to that. I take my hat off to him for that, and I told him I wanted to recognize him on the program (tonight).”

Greenville Police Chief Lonzo Ingram is just one of several honorees for tonight’s gospel program, but Smith emphasized that his organization also likes to spotlight outstanding citizens as well as businesses.

Eugene Hudson from Hudson Funeral Home and Shirley and Johnny Lee from Hot Waxx will also be recognized as honorees.

As a non-profit organization, none of the $7 asked of attendees will go toward anyone other than the performing musicians.

Although Smith admits that he is not likely to break even financially on the program, he also added that his payment comes in a different form.

“I’ve been singing now for more than 30 years, and it’s something God put on my heart to do,” Smith said. “As long as we’re doing it for the right reasons, God is going to reward us. That’s what we’re all about — having things that people can enjoy, especially the elderly, and trying to keep a bunch of these kids off the street corners while we’re at it. We just want to make a difference in someone else’s life.”