Freeport, Bahamas - The Praise Gathering is coming
to Grand Bahama – along with Choir Director Acneal Williams, the former
director of the Interdenominational Mass Choir (IMC) – who is making
a directorial comeback.
He’s organizing what he deems
will be a marvelous event that will feature some of the most talented
gospel singers that Grand Bahama has to offer.
The twelve singers involved
hail from various denominational and structured non-denominational entities
which boasts singers such as Kelda “Timeless” Sweeting, Zina Rubins,
Jonathan “Jon-B” Outten, Teena McDonald, Allesandro Major, Deborah
Stuart-Jones and Bridget Stuart, Vanessa Clarke, Danja Duncombe, Shauna
Joseph, Mellissa Taylor and Laverne Walkine.
Williams always had a vision
of bringing soloists together in what was labeled in his mind as “The
Gathering”. It was this dream that he shared with Kingdom Worship
Center’s Music Minister Kelda Sweeting – who had a similar desire
to feature an all female cast of gospel artists.
This was seven years ago.
Sweeting’s vision has evolved
into the Let the Women Sing Project and now Acneal is bringing his vision
to pass with The Praise Gathering – which will be held on Saturday,
December 11th at the Hilton Outten center at 7:00 p.m
By the time Williams was 30,
he had been directing for 17 years – ten of which were spent at the
helm of IMC.
“I have been fighting this
and it has been a long time since I’ve been on stage as a choir director
or since I’ve put on a concert. It was a daunting idea and when the
Holy Spirit began to tug at me with the idea, I found many reasons why
I was not the person for the job; I felt that this was not the time
for me to do it,” he said.
“But in His sarcastic way,
He was persistent that He wanted it to come about this year. We had
a fight about this for about three months - from June to August. I conceded
defeat and I laid out all the cards on the table for Him. I said, You
know everything. There are no secrets with You. You know my mind as
well. I gather that if you know everything, and you also know my mind
and you’re still asking me to do it. I suppose, there must be a reason.
If you’re okay with still wanting me to do it, I guess I’m okay
with doing it.”
Williams, who has been off
the scene for over five years having taken time to heal from some personal
issues, has officially cracked the whip and is ready to bounce back
to the forefront of gospel music locally.
“The events that lead up
to me stepping off the scene are not so private and so I figured that
there would be a whole lot to be said about me doing a concert. But,
the truth of the matter is, that no-one can know the mind of God. No
matter how you look at it. You still have to follow His leading and
you still have to agree to obey even if you don’t have all of the
information that makes you comfortable obeying. You still have to find
the courage to be obedient,” continued Williams.
“I don’t have a response
to what anyone will say critically, but to anyone that is curious, the
proof is not in the human hands that is doing the work. The proof is
in the spiritual hands that shall accomplish it. I am sure that the
singers who felt led of the Lord to come together – we all have stories
and we all have reasons for answering the call. At the end of the day,
despite your reason and despite your story, the call must be answered.”
Meanwhile, his grueling task
has begun with rigorous rehearsals with singers and band members learning
songs that will exhibit a lot of vocal and musical technique and prowess.
They are, however, relying on the power of the Holy Spirit to do the
Shauna Joseph – a soprano,
said she feels honored having been selected to be a part of this project.
“I said yes. That’s Neal.
I respect him as a musician and director. I really respect his work
and I just jumped at the chance because I just knew it was going to
be something wonderful. Everyone can just expect a wonderful time. There
will be something there for everyone.
“It is very timely because
people need to be encouraged at this point. The saints need to be encouraged
– so what about everybody else? So we know people will be blessed
and encouraged because God will be there.”
Mellissa Taylor, a tenor, said
that she too feels honored to sing among some of Grand Bahama’s finest.
“I am also happy that Acneal
has returned from his sabbatical. I really do value his gift to the
body of Christ. He is an excellent minstrel to the body of Christ. Also,
Grand Bahama can expect a high level of praise. The songs are soul stirring
and I am sure the Holy Spirit will be present,” she said.
Jon-B Outten, a tenor soloist
added that he’s very excited about this experience.
“I was excited about this
from the moment I heard about it. Knowing the people who will be on
stage added to my excitement. Thus far, the way the rehearsals are going,
I can see the excitement in everybody – including the musicians. All
who will be there will have a wonderful time. I know the word will go
out and we just may have to do this again in Freeport. And when the
people hear about it in Nassau and Provo (TCI), they will want it to
come there,” he said.