Demopolis Singers offer history of Demopolis in White Bluffs Pageant

For 200 years the people who have called Demopolis home have looked over the white bluffs of the Tombigbee River.

To celebrate the history of the city, the Demopolis Singers will present a spring concert of narration, music and photographs highlighting different eras its past.

The White Bluffs Pageant will be held Sunday, April 30, at 2 p.m. and Monday, May 1, at 7 p.m. in the First Baptist Church. There is no admission to the concert, which was made possible through a donation by the Alabama Power Greene County Steam Plant.

Directed by Ed Rush, the pageant will touch on events in Demopolis history, from the first Native Americans who lived along the river, to the French exiles who tried to start a vine and olive colony, the German Jews who settled in the rough frontier town, slavery and the Civil War, the Rooster Auction, the Depression, World War II, Civil Rights and the 21st Century.

Narrators dressed in period costumes will introduce each section, and the Singers, soloists and musicians will perform songs honoring the era.

As the pageant unfolds, photos of Demopolis and its people will be displayed in a photo montage prepared by Tim Hall. Janelle Baker is the accompanist for the Singers. Other musicians will join her for instrumental compositions.

Narrators dressed in the garb of the time include Bill Baker, Christopher Hoven, Sandra Booen, Jan McDonald, Jaclyn Figeroa, Brian Tripp, Lee Jordan, Tommy Carr, Ann Taylor Wood and Alex Williams. Soloists are Tristan Mullens and McDonald.

Demopolis Singers to present Christmas concert

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Demopolis Singers to present director’s original work

Ed Rush, left, rehearses with fellow musician Deeya Fitzgerald. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

Ed Rush, left, rehearses for the Demopolis Singers’ upcoming cantata with saxophonist Deeya Fitzgerald. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

Ed Rush believes in the extraordinary.

Retired as Minister of Music for the First Baptist Church, Rush now has more time to devote to composing choral music. His talents will shine for all to see when the Demopolis Singers presents his cantata, “An Extraordinary Christmas,” Thursday, Dec. 17, at 7 p.m. in the Old School Theater.

Rush got his inspiration for the theme of the cantata from the song “Just Ordinary People,” which he had sung as a solo many times.

“That’s true,” he said. “God has always used ordinary people to do His work.”

As he thought more about God’s use of everyday folks, Rush saw the idea expanded into a major composition. “That could work,” he thought.

After all, he said, “Bethlehem has always been called an insignificant town.” Joseph was a simple carpenter; Mary, a peasant girl, and lowly shepherds witnessed an extraordinary event.

He began in the spring of 2014 to work on the music and sought sources that helped him shape the ideas for the lyrics. In the narration he draws on poems and meditations from other writers as well as using his own words. “I want people to hear the Gospel message.”

From left, Rush, Deeya Fitzgerald, and Janelle Baker rehearse in preparation for the Demopolis Singers' upcoming Christmas concert. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

From left, Rush, Deeya Fitzgerald, and Janelle Baker rehearse in preparation for the Demopolis Singers’ upcoming Christmas cantata. (Photo by Jan McDonald)

As director of the Demopolis Singers, a voluntary post he has held on and off for many years, the biggest challenge is “finding the people who can commit to being here” for rehearsal since most of them are busy people involved in other activities. “This group has worked very hard to put together a program (the audience) not only will enjoy but appreciate.”

The concert will be divided into two parts. The cantata will be featured in the second, along with adaptations of familiar songs and hymns.

The first part will have secular music of the season, with fun pieces, familiar songs and a sing-a-long.

Rush, who plays the trombone, will be joined by several other musicians who will perform other songs of the season. They include Deeya Fitzgerald on saxophone; Janelle Baker, keyboard; Tim Hall, guitar, and Wanda Fuqua, flute.

Demopolis First United Church pastor David Willis will be the narrator for the cantata, and children from his church, directed by Gay Zodun, will join in singing one of the cantata songs.