The live music that will inspire audiences and artwork during "The Gospel Show: An Evening of Making Art Through Spiritual Music" at 6 p.m. Saturday, March 20, at Lander University's Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center, will be provided by Lander administration, faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as Greenwood community members. Cast members include, front row, from left: Ric Standridge, Upstate artist and performer; Olgethia Louden, Lander Class of 1983 and 2003; Tanisha Tolliver of Greer; Brandon Williams of Charleston; Steven Galloway of Anderson; Haley Shelton of Greenwood; and Tyree Scott, kneeling, of Greenwood. Back row, from left, are: Dr. Daniel Ball, Lander President; Nicholas Dickerson of Denmark; Lila Noonkester, chair of Lander's Department of Music; Evan Boney of Greenwood; Haylee Smith of Florence; and William Chelton of Columbia.
On any given summer night in 1960s Simpsonville, S.C., the joyful sounds of music and the laughter of children as they danced across the kitchen floor could be heard seeping through the open windows and the screen door of the Standridge home. The 12-inch LPs on the turntable spun to life the unforgettable voices of Elvis Presley, Ray Charles and Brook Benton while the hot and humid atmosphere of the south faded into darkness.
For one of these children, Ric Standridge, it was during nights like these that sparks of inspiration emerged that would later influence his career as an artist. "Music is a powerful motivator for me," he said. "It can shape the entire feel of a painting."
On Saturday, March 20, Standridge will be on stage at Lander University in Greenwood, S.C., bringing his newest creations to life in "The Gospel Show: An Evening of Making Art Through Spiritual Music." A catered reception and silent auction of Standridge's work will also take place at Lander just prior to the show's start.
A spectacular fusion of art and soulful music, The Gospel Show is the latest in the line of Standridge's popular art-and-music performances. As the melodies surround him on stage, Standridge is inspired by the powerful emotions behind the songs - emotions that influence the selection of colors, images and themes that appear on his canvases.
Paintings created during The Gospel Show will be auctioned off at the conclusion of the performance, with proceeds going to create an art and music scholarship at Lander in memory of Standridge's mother, Adell Standridge, paying tribute to the woman who was his first - and greatest - inspiration.
"The music and this show are an homage to that wonderful woman who raised me and who adopted me when I was only two days old," Standridge said. "She lived 98 long, hard and wonderful years. And she, as I used to tell her, was as tough as that Georgia clay she was raised in."
Standridge, who attended Lander in the 1970s, said the The Gospel Show is also his way of giving back to the university that helped shape his career as an artist.
"The Adell Standridge Art and Music Scholarship will be a significant addition to Lander's scholarship program," said Adam Taylor, Lander vice president for University Advancement. "It will help countless future artists and musicians receive a great education, and those students will go on to enrich our lives and communities, just as Ric has done."
During The Gospel Show, audiences will find their own source of enrichment, not only in the works that Standridge will create, but in the musical performances that will accompany his paintings.
Standridge explained that every song for The Gospel Show is meaningful, but one song, "Peace in the Valley," was his mother's favorite. "'Peace in the Valley' was her anthem. It's what she put on to make herself feel good. It's what she put on when she felt a little low."
The song also carries special meaning for the person who will be performing it during The Gospel Show, Lander President Dr. Daniel Ball. "I learned this song from an uncle of mine who was a musician," he said. "He was more of a guitar player than a singer, but he instilled in me a love for this song that continues to this day."
Along with Dr. Ball, the live music that will inspire Standridge's paintings will be provided by Lander faculty, staff, students and alumni, as well as Greenwood community members. One of those performers is Louise Robinson, who is involved with musical activities at Lander and throughout the Greenwood community. "I love music and sharing it with others," she said.
Robinson will perform several pieces, including "Do Lord Remember Me," "Let it Be" and, with the Mt. Moriah Baptist Church Adams Ensemble, a sequence featuring three songs "Wade in the Water," " Little Wooden Church" and "Down by the River to Pray"
"It's a sequence of songs dealing with baptism and rebirth, and I think it's going to be a very moving set," said Robinson. "The three songs all fit together well with what we will be doing on stage to show the significance of being dipped in the water and rising to do better things."
Former Greenwood assistant chief of police Michael Butler will also be joining the cast, along with other performers from Lander and the community. Featured community performers are: Darius Greene and Norris Turner. Featured Lander faculty and student performers are: Evan Boney of Greenwood; Ryan Davis of Duncan; Nicholas Dickerson of Denmark; Stephanie Haje of Simpsonville; Myra Shaffer, Lander adjunct instructor of theatre and Greenwood-Lander Performing Arts executive director; Tanisha Tolliver of Greer and Brandon Williams of Charleston. Vocalists will be accompanied by Dr. Lila Noonkester, chair of Lander's Department of Music, piano; William Chelton of Columbia, bass; Steven Galloway of Anderson, piano and saxophone; and Durrell Jules of Columbia, drums.
Other Lander students, faculty and alums, and community members, as well as the Lander Brass Ensemble, under the direction of Lander assistant professor of music Dr. Reed Gallo, will complete the cast.
"The Gospel Show: An Evening of Making Art Through Spiritual Music" is schedule for 6 p.m. Saturday, March 20, in Lander University's Josephine B. Abney Cultural Center. Tickets for the show, silent auction and reception are $40 per person or $75 per couple. They can be purchased through the Lander President's Office at 864-388-8300, through the Peace Center at 864-467-3000 or online at www.peacecenter.org. For information, visit www.lander.edu/thegospelshow.