With several different choirs, the halls of St. John Baptist Church are often filled with the music of praise.
On Saturday, two performing artists who began practicing their art at the church will take to the stage for its Love’s In Need concert fundraiser. Tickets are available for a $20 donation and all funds raised will go to support church initiatives for youth and homelessness.
Though Ingrid Arthur has performed on stages all across the world, she admits she’s a little nervous to perform in her hometown of Gainesville. The singer has performed with artists such as Bette Midler, Cissy Houston and Shirley Caesar and recorded two CDs as a Weather Girl. In June, she performed before a presidential speech for President Barack Obama at the Brandenburg Gate in Berlin.
But Arthur said she’s going to be a little nervous when she takes the stage at her old church next Saturday because she’s never "been home in this capacity before."
"I’m nervous and excited at the same time, which is always good," Arthur said via Skype interview from Germany. "It lets me know I’m gonna definitely do my best. I won’t be so concentrated on everything else."
Arthur, who lives in Berlin and visits family and friends in Gainesville once a year, said she’s excited about the opportunity to share her passion with her hometown. She has been successful in her music career since moving to Germany 15 years ago. She hopes she’ll encourage young people to take advantage of opportunities to explore the world around them.
"I definitely speak about the world out there," Arthur said. "I thought I would never leave home. I went to Valdosta State and I came back home and thought that was it for me."
But Arthur followed her passion for singing and moved to New York City where she felt she could find more opportunity.
"In New York City, I was hustling and bustling," Arthur said, laughing. "I was working at Citi Bank, food emporium part time and then trying to sing at the end of the day."
One night, Arthur sang at a gospel open mic event and was offered a job traveling through Europe on the "Golden Gospel Singers" tour. She performed on the tour for six years. Friends she made in Europe encouraged her to stay in Germany and continue building her career.
"I think it’s all about the contacts you make," Arthur said. "Life over here in Germany is not so different to me in so many ways than America. But the thing about being in Europe is they really love good entertainment and I can make a living from it."
She said traveling opened new opportunities that have changed her life. She encourages young people to see the world and take advantage of learning about other cultures while they’re still in school.
"There is a world out there to be explored," Arthur said. "I know for me, had I not traveled to New York City, I would not have known anything about Europe."
Arthur will perform along side fellow musician and Gainesville High School classmate Terrance Shelton. The Atlanta native leads the music at KidStuf at Buckhead Church and has worked as a celebrity wardrobe stylist and assistant prop master for several television shows and films. He’s also worked with musical artists such as Andre 3000, CeeLo Green and jazz vocalist Cassandra Wilson.
Shelton said he and Arthur have performed together before, but this will be the first time since their school days in Pam Ware’s class at Gainesville High School.
Shelton said he believes the rich musical heritage of his hometown’s church has paved the way for himself, Arthur and other
"St. John has served as a really strong foundation in our faith and also our music careers," Shelton said. "I’m excited to be coming home to Gainesville."