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A moment of joy: Gospel event coming up at Brenau University
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Arabia Jones won Brenau University's 2018 Brenau Gospel Experience soloist audition, which means she'll perform with big-name gospel singers at the end of March during the Brenau Gospel Experience. - photo by AJ Reynolds

If you’re looking for a way to enjoy some gospel music, look no further than the Brenau Gospel Experience.

The free event March 29 and 30 will feature a few workshops and plenty of live gospel music performances to feed your soul.

“It’s a full-participation sport,” Barbara Steinhaus, chair of the department of music at Brenau and an organizer for the event, said of gospel concerts. “You’ll find that the audience is on their feet most of the evening and if they know the songs, they sing along, they clap along. They participate at a pretty high level so it really is an immersive experience for people to come.”

Steinhaus will host a panel, 3 to 5 p.m. March 29 at Brenau’s Hosch Theatre, on healing through music, something she said she’s very passionate about.

“Arts and health is a field that’s growing in the United States,” Steinhaus said. “And it’s found to support not only patients as they deal with their illnesses but also support the stress that is found in care providers.”

Later the first night, at 7 p.m. at Brenau’s Pearce Auditorium, Karen Peck and New River, the Brenau Gospel Choir and junior music education student Arabia Jones, will perform a concert for guests.

Jones won the 2018 Brenau Gospel Experience soloist audition, which means she’ll get to perform with Karen Peck and New River.

“I’m so excited and I’m nervous, too,” Jones said. “This is something I really wanted to do … I don’t think too much about it like I won a competition, I was just worshiping and doing what I love, which is singing and being a part of a gospel choir and doing it for God. To see how far this has come, and how amazing the opportunity is, I can’t do anything but thank God.”

On Saturday, the event will host a songwriting workshop from 3 to 5 p.m. at Brenau’s Bobbit Rehearsal Hall, followed by another gospel concert at 7 p.m. at the Pearce Auditorium, which will feature Jeff and Sheri Easter along with Madison and Shannon Easter, Ty Scott King and the Brenau Gospel Choir.

Brenau Gospel Experience

When: 3 to 5 p.m., 7 p.m. March 29 and 30

Where: Brenau University, 500 Washington Street SE, Gainesville

How much: Free, tickets required

More info: Online

“We would hope that (attendees) would have a renewed sense of community,” Steinhaus said. “Not only among one another but also with Brenau being a member of their community.”

Steinhaus is excited for the community to experience something like a gospel concert. That’s also something Jones is excited about, since it’s something she said she doesn’t see available much anymore.

“There are not a lot of chances to hear gospel music as there may have used to be,” Jones said. “I know I definitely wasn’t exposed to it as much as I am now being a part of the gospel choir.”

She said music — especially gospel music — is a chance to bring people together and “celebrate being a part of this wonderful world.”

As people gather to sing gospel music, Jones hopes they’ll experience the power of music. She said it’s an event for everyone.

“It’s an experience,” Jones said. “It’s not like we’re trying to change how people think or what they believe, but it’s a chance for them to experience what it's like to be anointed and why we’re here.”

Jones knows singing with a successful group like Karen Peck and New River is “a big deal.” But if it gives people an opportunity to gather and enjoy gospel music, the nerves she’s feeling are worth it.

“People are so busy with their own lives, this gives people a chance to see that there are other people around that can take a moment out of their day just to be happy,” Jones said. “It’s a moment of joy.”

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