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North Georgia Gospel singer lands part in new Queen Latifah movie
Karen Peck
North Georgia Gospel singer and Grammy Award nominee Karen Peck will have a small role in the new Queen Latifah movie co-starring Dolly Parton. Filming is set to begin in March.

In a blessing from God, as Karen Peck described it, the Southern gospel singer from Dahlonega has been cast in a movie starring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah.

Peck, the lead singer of Karen Peck and New River, a Northeast Georgia-based Southern gospel group, will have a small role in the movie "Joyful Noise" that will begin filming in March.

"The movie is about a church choir competition, and I will be one of the lead vocalists in one of the choirs that will be competing," Peck said. "It is absolutely the most bizarre thing. I got a call at the end of September from a casting agency from New York City. This casting agent told me that there was a director by the name of Todd Graff (the movie's producer) that had been doing research on gospel artists. He wanted to offer me a small part in a movie called "Joyful Noise" that would be featuring Dolly Parton and Queen Latifah. I would be one of the lead vocalists in the choir that competes.

"I thought it was a joke at first because I do have friends that would do that ... they called my cell phone and when I saw it was from New York, then I knew this had to be real."

But Peck isn't a newcomer to the lime light.

Karen Peck and New River just recently were nominated for a Grammy, for the third time. The recent nomination is for their latest album "Live at Oak Tree."

Even though Peck has been performing and singing Southern gospel music for years, she admitted she only has about six weeks of professional acting lessons, which she took with good friend and Times columnist Ronda Rich.

"We took six weeks of classes in Cumming," Peck said. "Honestly, I have had such a great experience, every person that I have dealt with has been exceptionally nice, accommodating and easy to work with.

"Todd Graff e-mailed me a month ago and told me that he had added me one speaking line and all of this is toward the end of movie ... from what I gather."

Peck will record the song for "Joyful Noise," with well-known music producer Mervyn Warren in early January in Atlanta. Then sometime in March will be the actual film shoot, she said.

"This is a dream come true for me because I've always wanted to do something like this," she said. "I just hope this will be a platform for more people to hear our music. I know that everything is in order by God, and I know that he has a plan for all of this. I just pray that this will be a way to extend my ministry and what we are trying to accomplish."

Peck is excited to meet the stars of the film but did have the chance a couple times to meet Parton, once as recent as October.

"Back in October I co-hosted an awards show
(for the Southern Gospel Music Association) ... and we awarded her the Impact Award and so I was able to speak with her briefly backstage," said Peck, who is the first woman present on the SGMA. "What was so awesome about it was I had just found out about the movie a week before and I wanted to mention it to her but I got cold feet ... but I was thrilled to meet her."

Peck has just a few weeks to prepare for her new adventure and she hopes everyone locally sends a little prayer her way.

"Every now and then I feel like the Lord drops special blessings in our lap and I feel like this is one of them," she said.