Outdoor classical music festivals this summer offer operas, orchestras

For fans of quartets and smaller ensembles, this Westchester County, N.Y., classical festival welcomes a solid summer-long lineup, including Ivalas Quartet (June 29), Sandbox Percussion (June 30), Miró Quartet (July 6), Ruckus (July 7), DakhaBrakha (July 14) and the Knights with violinist Pekka Kuusisto (July 28). Opera offerings include Francesca Caccini’s “Alcina” (June 25) and Handel’s “Acis and Galatea” (July 23). On June 23, powerhouse quartet Brooklyn Rider plays a program based on “The Four Elements,” featuring music by Golijov, Shostakovich, Colin Jacobsen and Andreia Pinto-Correia. On July 9, the Crossing choir performs “Farming,” a provocative new work composed by Ted Hearne for 24 singers, electric guitars, keyboards, percussion and a “large cultivated field.”

June 17-Aug. 18 at the Caramoor Center for Music and the Arts, Katonah, N.Y.

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Vialma launches classical music FAST channel

Vialma has launched a classical music FAST channel on Samsung TV Plus. Initially available in France and Switzerland, the channel aims to tap into a growing young following for classical music.

Vialma has an established streaming platform with more than 2 million audio and video titles, which are curated to enable enthusiasts and curious minds to discover new works. The FAST channel, Vialma TV, features concerts, film music, operas, and ballets, as well as short films featuring both established and emerging artists. This includes Ennio Morricone conducting his own film scores, young dancers doing pas de deux in the streets, and the latest video recordings from the London Symphony Orchestra.

Guillaume Descottes, Founder, Vialma, commented: “Recent figures show that classical music is growing in popularity, with a growth rate far exceeding other genres. Young people in particular are looking to consume classical music to help them concentrate, study, and relax and improve mental wellbeing. These audiences are digital first, however, there are very few fully digital classical musical services. With this channel, we want to give younger audiences a way to easily access free classical music in a format they are comfortable with.”

Antoine Chotard, Strategic Partner Development, Samsung TV Plus France, added: “We have chosen to distribute Vialma TV, because its offer brings a fresh approach to classical music. Vialma’s FAST channel offers modern programmes, and programmes which have been adapted for new FAST audiences.”

Vialma TV is available in the aforementioned countries on all devices with access to Samsung TV Plus, including phones and connected TVs.

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Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon’s Celebrity Prank Wars coming to E!

Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon host Celebrity Prank Wars.

Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon host Celebrity Prank Wars.

Kevin Hart and Nick Cannon take their famous friendly feud to the next level with E!’s hilarious new competition series Celebrity Prank Wars.

“It’s an all-out war as one celebrity pranks another, and the payback begins,” reads a press statement. 

Each episode will see different celebrities planning and performing some of the wildest and most viral pranks on each other. Hosts Cannon and Hart then choose one winner of the Prank War.

Celebrities are always trying to up the ante as each prank is more elaborate than the next – all of them with unexpected twists, embarrassing situations, and shocking reveals. Celebrities would be wise to stay on high alert with these pranksters in town!

Celebrity participants include: Anthony Anderson, Brie Garcia, Nikki Garcia, Lil Duval, Big E, Fantasia, Tiffany Haddish, Taraji P. Henson, Lil Jon, Kofi Kingston, Ludacris, Joel McHale, Killer Mike, Chance The Rapper, T-Pain, Robin Thicke, T.I. and Xavier Woods.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Ludacris V. Lil Jon.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Ludacris V. Lil Jon.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Joel McHale V. Anthony Ander

Celebrity Prank Wars: Joel McHale V. Anthony Anderson.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Ludacris V. Lil Jon.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Ludacris V. Lil Jon.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Brie Bella V. Nikki Bella.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Brie Bella V. Nikki Bella.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Lil Duval V. T.I.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Lil Duval V. T.I.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Tiffany Haddish V. Killer Mi

Celebrity Prank Wars: Tiffany Haddish V. Killer Mike.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Tiffany Haddish V. Killer Mi

Celebrity Prank Wars: Tiffany Haddish V. Killer Mike.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Robin Thicke V. T-Pain.

Celebrity Prank Wars: Robin Thicke V. T-Pain.

Celebrity Prank Wars is produced by Hartbeat and NCredible, with Hart, Cannon, Kevin Healey, Luke Kelly-Clyne, Mike Stein, Bryan Smiley, Thai Randolph, Jeff Clanagan, Michael Goldman and Ben Sumpter serving as Executive Producers.  

Celebrity Prank Wars airs on E! Africa (DStv 124) every Sunday at 19:05 from 2 July.

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Kato Lubwama bows out before grand show

Fans and the entertainment fraternity went into mourning in the wee hours of Wednesday when the artiste was suddenly pronounced dead on social media.

The former MP,52, representing Rubaga South constituency in the 10th Parliament died at Stana Medical Centre in Bunamwaya, a suburb outside Kampala city.

Preliminary information is that he succumbed to a heart attack. The late Lubwama had been in and out of hospitals because of a heart condition for some time now.

News of his passing was broken by his business associate and events promoter Bajjo, real name Andrew Mukasa, via TikTok. It was later confirmed through his social media platforms by the page administrator.

Lubwama was not only very good at getting into character in the many plays and films he featured in, but the man was an artistic character himself.

His friend and theatre director, Mr John Ssegawa describes him as having been the very human face of comedy and art – an actor who would take art off stage and into real life.

“Everything about him was artistic; he fancied using his body, voice, and facial expressions to pull off an artistic role,” Mr Ssegawa says.

Mr Ssegawa says that audiences would simply burst out into bouts of laughter just by looking at Lubwama on stage, even when he did not say a word.

He says that Lubwama was born a comedian, his character would be equated to Uganda’s other famous comedian, John Johns.

His character Bidugu in one of his first plays, Kanyoola bikya – a ‘90s local language (Luganda) production — exposed him to theatre enthusiasts and became quite the talk of the town in parts of Kampala.

The popular play sold out in theatres. It became a miniseries on television, telling the story of his humble life beginnings in extreme poverty on Old Kampala’s Martin Road.

The play became part of Lubwama’s life, forcing people to liken him to the character and hence the nickname Bidugu. Mr Ssegawa says that most theatre directors who wanted comedy in a play, would opt for Lubwama. “His comic character was always natural, it was never scripted,” he adds.

His comedy would manifest everywhere, including on television and online in YouTube interviews where he used humour to respond to questions.

His talent gave him a job on radio as a presenter where his theatrics would introduce him to the unexplored world of voicing popular radio jingles, and advertising a wide range of products.

For many years, Lubwama worked as a presenter on the famous Kaliisoliiso morning radio programme on Buganda Kingdom’s CBS FM.

His talent was nurtured and grew in the popular theatre group, The Black Pearls. He would eventually become the proprietor of Diamonds Ensemble, a theatre group he started in 1994 and also ran Royal Theatre since 2010. Along the way, in 1999, Lubwama became a director at Image Africa.

Close friend and fellow artiste Abby Mukiibi Nkaaga remembers when Lubwama entered the fast world of performing arts as a youth together with Ms Mariam Ndagire and Mr Ssegawa. The three made a name for themselves in the fine company of Joseph Semakula, popularly known as Omugave Ndugwa.

The late Omugave Ndugwa shaped modern-day theatre by grooming young artistes like Lubwama and Mr Mukiibi, who turned into stars under The Black Pearls.

By the time of his death, Lubwama had just completed the screenplay of his Uganda at 60 play, which was due for launch in the theatre soon.

As a businessman, Lubwama has long dealt in the maize flour trade but he also had an interest in several other businesses, including a media house called B24TV in Uganda.

Lubwama’s contribution to Uganda’s music industry is also worthy a mention. He recorded his own songs and also wrote songs which jumpstarted many careers.

His song Kirabe ebiiso featuring the late vocalist Immaculate Nabiryo is among his most popular works ever recorded. The ballad was released in 2001 off a six-track album and enjoyed much airplay on radio. It was part of a project he did under Diamond Productions’ band.

His repertoire of songs include; Dimitiria, Bank Yebyama, Abantu Bazibu, Ekisoro Kyebayita Omuntu among others. His latest songs were Magado and Have Mercy, both released this year.

Mr Ssegawa confirms that Lubwama wrote music for theatre before he started writing for musicians, including Ms Mariam Ndagire whose career started with Lubwama’s songs.

Ahead of the 2016 general elections, Lubwama was quoted asking voters to send him to Parliament so that he can also “eat” that money given to MPs. What sounded like a typical Lubwama joke, would later become the slogan of an astonishing electoral campaign.

A member of the Democratic Party (DP), the artiste contested as an independent candidate after forming a loose coalition of like-minded party enthusiasts known as ‘Solida’ derived from the word solidarity.

Their declared mission was to restore the former glory of DP. Many did not initially take them very seriously. But with the unexpected backing of an electorate disillusioned by the uninspiring nature of conventional politics, Lubwama shocked many and won the Rubaga South seat.

However, unfortunately, Lubwama did not retain his seat in the 2021 election, losing to National Unity Platform candidate, Mr Aloysius Charlton Mukasa.

In 2014, Lubwama revealed to the media that he had been diagnosed with a heart-related illness at Mulago National Referral Hospital.

Later in 2015, Lubwama underwent successful heart surgery in India after medics at Uganda Heart Institute recommended him for coronary artery bypass treatment.  He was hospitalised for three weeks at the Fotse Esctots Heart Institute in New Dehli, India. In July 2020, he underwent surgery to remove a tumour at Medipal International Hospital in Kampala.  His son, Mr Conrad Lubwama, said he underwent colostomy reversal surgery.

  •He   was born on August 16, 1970, sat his Primary Leaving Examinations in 1983 at Nabagereka Primary School. •In 1988, Lubwama sat for his Uganda Certificate of Education at Old Kampala Secondary School.

•Between 1991-1992, Lubwama obtained his Special University Entry Examination Certificate Other at Makerere University. •In 1994, Lubwama obtained a Diploma in Music, Dance and Drama, also from Makerere University.

Anita Annet Among. Speaker of Parliament.

His sense of humour brought life to the 10th Parliament and he built bridges across the political divide. He also leaves a solid legacy in the entertainment world where he spent most of his life.

Mathias Mpuuga, Leader of Opposition in Parliament.

Uganda’s Theatre and arts industry has lost a Gem in Hon Kato Lubwama!… His coming to Parliament was a surprise to many because he was not known to be into the political spaces! …We shall miss him.

 Finding someone as talented as Kato Lubwama is difficult. He was an actor,  playwright, producer, singer, and songwriter. You can imagine the kind of loss we in the arts are facing right now.

Joseph Kabuleta, Political activist.

One of the funniest men I ever met…The first time I met Kato Lubwama, nearly 25 years ago, I was interviewing him about a play. He was making a serious point but I was laughing so hard.

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‘The Idol’ Weekly Singles From The Soundtrack

The timeline of The Weeknd actually killing “The Weeknd,” as he told W Magazine he plans to do, is not yet known. But the artist born Abel Tesfaye went ahead and killed the original release schedule for The Idol soundtrack.

“I was planning on dropping the whole soundtrack for [The Idol] by the finale, but I’m too hyped… instead, I wanna drop new music from the show every week with each episode,” he posted on Wednesday, June 7. “I’m excited for you guys to hear what we’ve been cooking and all these incredible artists that are a part of this show… this week… Jocelyn’s pop song ‘world class sinner’ and ‘the lure’ (theme score)… episode 2 this Sunday [purple devil emoji].”

The Idol debuted at the 2023 Cannes Film Festival before the premiere episode aired on HBO last Sunday, June 4. The sinister (and controversial) series was co-created by Tesfaye, Sam Levinson (Euphoria), and Reza Fahim. Tesfaye also stars alongside Lily-Rose Depp.

“After a nervous breakdown derailed Jocelyn’s (Depp) last tour, she’s determined to claim her rightful status as the greatest and sexiest pop star in America,” reads the official synopsis. “Her passions are reignited by Tedros (Tesfaye), a nightclub impresario with a sordid past. Will her romantic awakening take her to glorious new heights or the deepest and darkest depths of her soul?”

So far, Tesfaye has released “Double Fantasy” featuring Future and “Popular” featuring Madonna and Playboi Carti. Tesfaye performed “Double Fantasy” as a surprise guest during Metro Boomin’s Coachella set, as reported by Billboard in April.

Also in April, Tesfaye explained his The Idol soundtrack influences to Jeremy O. Harris for Interview Magazine.

“I’ve been inspired by The Wall and Purple Rain and when Bowie was doing it, but even films like Shaft, the music is literally telling the story of the film,” he said. “But I want to take it to the next level. I want to challenge myself and I feel like, as a musician, I’m the best I’ve ever been. But I have ADD. I can’t focus on just that. It’s like, how do I throw a wrench in it?”

He could impulsively decide he’d rather release weekly singles than wait until The Idol finale to drop the full soundtrack. It only took two-ish months to answer his own question.

The Idol‘s second episode, “Double Fantasy, will air at 9 p.m. EST on HBO.

Madonna is a Warner Music artist. Uproxx is an independent subsidiary of Warner Music Group.

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Classical Music Playlist, June 7, 2023

At age 24 in 1889 Carl Nielsen began his 16-year position in the second violin section of the Royal Danish Orchestra. Five years later he performed in the orchestra for the premiere of his own First Symphony. He would become a Danish national hero, eventually composing six symphonies that to this day are among the core repertoire of the Danish National Symphony Orchestra who have recently released a 3-CD set of all six symphonies led by Principal Conductor Fabio Luisi. Each day this week, we’ll feature one of Nielsen’s first five symphonies from this new cycle with the Fifth on his birthday, June 9.

“Carl Nielsen has his own, personal language,” Fabio Luisi says. “At times, it is highly unusual, but it is also witty and profound, and it is highly obvious that the Danish National Symphony Orchestra is extremely familiar with its distinctive characteristics.”

Liner notes from this new recording cycle describes the Symphony No. 3 “Sinfonia expansiva”:

In 1905, Nielsen gave up his orchestral position as a violinist in order to devote all his time to composition, and Symphony No. 3 “Sinfonia espansiva” (1910–1911) marked his breakthrough as a symphonic composer. For Carl Nielsen, the work represented development, growth and humanity’s infinite potential. The irregular sharp whipcracks at the beginning of the symphony sling the music out with so much energy that the first movement unfolds from its own impetus, developing in a remarkable way and even including a giddy waltz. In the second movement, one finds oneself in unspoilt nature and a paradise-like serenity. Nielsen adds the voices of a man and a woman, who wordlessly blend with the vegetative music as if they are some kind of Adam and Eve. The stark contrast to this elevated passivity comes in the form of the agitation and restlessness of the third movement, before the symphonic development concludes in the fourth movement, which pays homage to human activities here on Earth. “A paean of praise to labour and the healthy development of daily life,” as Nielsen himself formulated it.

The Symphony No. 3 “Sinfonia espansiva” by Carl Nielsen, from the new cycle recorded by the Danish National Symphony Orchestra conducted by Fabio Luisi, is today’s Midday Masterpiece.

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Blair Tindall obituary

Mozart in the Jungle (2005), Blair Tindall’s unsparingly coarse portrait of a precarious life in classical music, opens with a cocaine-fuelled party in New York and glissandos downhill from there: “ ‘Wagner’s so far out. What’s with those Valkyries?’ said Milton, sneezing violently . . . He arranged a cocaine flower pattern on my toenail and snorted.”

To some she courageously lifted the lid on exploitation and sexual abuse in classical music 15 years before the #MeToo movement; to others she was the exploiter, dishing the dirt on what had been a cosy and consensual “what happens in Vegas stays in Vegas” approach in the industry.

As a professional oboist, Tindall was in demand among orchestras, chamber music ensembles and recording studios. She performed in

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Kevin Hart Pays It Forward With A $500K Grant For Black Businesses

Comedian and entrepreneur Kevin Hart and his tequila brand have joined forces with a national nonprofit organization to provide small businesses with a grant to help support their dreams and goals.

Local Initiatives Support Corporation (LISC) has teamed up with Hart and his Gran Coramino Tequila partner, Juan Domingo Beckmann, as well as Global Brand Equities, to launch The Coramino Fund. The fund is an initiative formed to help uplift and support small, Black- and Latinx-owned businesses. Specifically, those that have been marginalized and prevented from gaining access to necessary capital and resources to help with their business growth.

The Coramino Fund gave Black and Latinx entrepreneurs and businesses a $10,000 grant to facilitate in providing the tools to help bolster their businesses.

This year, The Coramino Fund has already awarded half a million dollars to 50 entrepreneurs across the country. Each was given a grant of $10,000. The numbers across the board show that 50% of the companies are Black-owned, while 36% are Latinx-owned, and the remaining 14% are Black and Latinx-owned. More than 67% of the companies are women-owned businesses.

In a written statement to VegNews, Hart said, “[Beckmann] and I always knew we wanted Gran Coramino to have a give-back component that focused on providing Black and Latinx entrepreneurs with resources to pursue their small business dreams. Teaming up with LISC last year to launch The Coramino Fund in the US was the start of that journey.”

In an Instagram post, the tequila company highlighted some of the entrepreneurs who received grants from The Coramino Fund.

In May 2023, The Man From Toronto actor opened the third location of his plant-based fast food eatery, Hart House. The new site serves as the vegan quick-service restaurant’s first-ever drive-thru location.

Two of the recipients of the grant, Black Leaf Vegan and Mama Roots are vegan locations.

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‘Poker Face’ Activation ‘BLSHT Day’ To Take Over L.A. Restaurants (EXCLUSIVE)

Peacock will hold its very own Bullshit (BLSHT) Day, an immersive in-person activation experience to celebrate its comedy “Poker Face” on June 10. 

BLSHT participants and fans will have the opportunity to “hit the road” like Natasha Lyonne’s character Charlie Cale. The “BLSHT Day” consumers will be able to score “Poker Face” themed items from the various participating L.A. locations and “call BLSHT and reap the rewards.” To receive the special themed products, fans will have to walk up to the checkout counters and call BLSHT. 

The “BLSHT Day” hub will be at Westfield Century City Mall, featuring Charlie’s Barracuda, a lie detector experience and branded photo opportunities. Additionally at the Century City location, fans will receive a map of participating locations around Los Angeles. See below for the event’s participating venues.

The below venues will be participating from 12 p.m. to 5 p.m.:

  • Civil Coffee: “A Different Kind of Buzz” — located in Sherman Oaks
  • Magpies: “Scoop of Lies” — located in Tarzana
  • Wanderlust: “Poker Face Planoffee Pie” — located in Santa Monica
  • Sorry Not Sorry: “Two Truths and a Fry” — located in West LA
  • Ggiata Deli: “On the Run Rainbow Cookie” — located in West Hollywood
  • Açaí, Por Favor: “Bowlsh*t” — located in West Hollywood
  • Amoeba Music: “Poker Face’s Cracking the Case Opener” — located in Hollywood

The below venue will be participating from 12 p.m. to 4 p.m.:

  • Sqirl Kitchen: “Poker Face Chip” — located in Silver Lake

The below venue will be participating from 2 p.m. to 6 p.m.:

  • Desert 5 Spot: “Let’s Taco’bout the Truth” — located in Hollywood

Ahead of the event, on June 9 Peacock will take over L.A. Live Plaza and distribute custom illustrated maps highlighting the “BLSHT Day” locations, and host a game of truth or lie, with the opportunity to score swag.

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The soundtrack of my life

NORTHAMPTON, England — “Sing and make music from your heart to the Lord, always giving thanks to God the Father for everything, in the name of our Lord Jesus Christ.

So reads Ephesians 5:19-20 in the New International Version.

The King James Version says “making melody in your heart,” but I like the NIV better, because music from the heart is music shared.  

About 25 years ago, a gifted friend and colleague, the late Sally Reid, asked me to write the lyrics for a composition she submitted to a competition sponsored by the Vatican Jubilee 2000 celebration.

A hymnal opened to "Sun of My Soul," one of the many songs tourists sang on the Hymns and Heritage tour in Europe.

A hymnal opened to “Sun of My Soul,” one of the many songs tourists sang on the Hymns and Heritage tour.

“The music comes first, then the lyric,” she told me.  

I’d never heard that before. I’m a word person, obviously. I just assumed that after a lyric was written, a composer set it to music. But Sally had been invited, not me, based on her international reputation as a composer, so I did as I was told. And “Jesus, Redeemer, Messiah” was performed six times in Rome, including once at the Vatican.  

I learned a lot from Sally.

Recently, I thought about her words often as I learned a lot from Jerry Rushford on his final Hymns and Heritage tour through England, Scotland and Wales. 

So much of our time was spent hearing stories about the lives and words of great hymn writers — stories I’ll never forget, words often sung to more than one tune. 

Who knew — besides Jerry — that “When the Roll is Called Up Yonder” was written by a teacher, James Milton Black, to honor the memory of a dying child who no longer answered the roll in his class.  I’ll understand those words differently next time I sing them.

 “On that bright and cloudless morning when the dead in Christ shall rise …

“Amazing Grace” took on new meaning when I learned that John Newton was once a slave trader and sea captain who became an ardent abolitionist.

 “How precious did that grace appear the hour I first believed.”

Newton spent his latter decades serving the church and collaborating with his friend William Cowper, who fought depression his whole life. Knowing of that sadness makes “Oh for a Closer Walk with God” much more poignant.

So shall my walk be close with God, Calm and serene my frame.”

Tourists on the Hymns and Heritage tour worship in the Hursely Church in England.

Tourists on the Hymns and Heritage tour worship in the Hursely Church in England.

Few of the 300-plus songs we sang were new to me. My dad was a song leader, and I spent my childhood harmonizing to his bass lead from the back seat of his blue Chevy on summer road trips through the Mountain West. That’s probably why I seldom used the personally embossed hymnal Jerry had given each of us for the tour.  

Thanks to Daddy, I usually even remembered the oft-overlooked third verses. And what’s with the Church of Christ compulsion to only sing the first, second and last verse anyway?

The music of my heart always has words. Two weeks traversing the United Kingdom on a bus with 38 other song lovers reminded me of that. 

“Come ye that love the Lord and let your joy be known!”

I know “ye” is antiquated, but get over it and let your joy be known.

“Sing to me of heaven.”

“O happy day that fixed my choice on thee, my savior and my God.”

“Shall we gather at the river?”

“Nearer my God to thee”

Christians sing hymns in the Escomb Church, one of the oldest one of the oldest Anglo-Saxon churches in England.

Christians sing hymns in the Escomb Church, one of the oldest Saxon churches in England.

I knew Fanny Crosby, the great American hymn writer, was blind. But Jerry taught me about the trans-Atlantic friendship between her and Frances Ridley Havergal, the greatest and most prolific woman hymn writer from England, and her poetic tribute to Crosby that concludes:

Sister! what will our meeting be,

When our hearts shall sing and our eyes shall see!”

“When our hearts shall sing.” Travel, like music, is life changing, at least it should be. Singing in Saxon churches where believers have worshiped for more than 1,600 years writes lyrics on the soul.

Steve Lockwood, fellow traveler from Bothell, Wash., called it “the soundtrack of my life.” Mine, too. And my soundtrack came with my father’s voice in my ear, clear and strong as it sounded from my childhood until it fell silent at 95. I don’t understand that phenomenon, but I’m not the only one who was touched by it.

Worship leader D.J. Bulls said he heard the voices of many people in his life who inspired him to be who he is.  

Related: After leading 20 tours over 40 years, Jerry Rushford retires from Hymns and Heritage

“For those who get to do worship ministry every week — worship is highly emotional,” Bulls said on the last night of the tour. “It’s tied to the deepest memories that form our faith.”  

He’s right. And it’s not just true for those who lead worship, but for all of us who share the music from our hearts.

CHERYL MANN BACON is a Christian Chronicle contributing editor who served for 20 years as chair of the Department of Journalism and Mass Communication at Abilene Christian University. Contact [email protected]

Filed under:
A Cappella Hymns
Christian hymns
Classic hymns
Fanny Crosby
Hymns and Heritage tour
John Newton

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