April 23rd Gospel Jubilee is Coming to Proctors in Schenectady-Interview with (Executive Producer) Sara Hill -By: Rob Smittix
Written by Staff on April 9, 2022
Today I am speaking with Sara Hill (executive producer) regarding the 10th Annual Gospel Jubilee event coming to Proctors in Schenectady Saturday April 23rd at 6pm.
RRX: Sara, please tell us a little bit about your involvement and what you do for the Gospel Jubilee. What does it mean to be an executive producer of a show like this?
SH: Rob, thank you, for having me. I am so grateful to be able to share this concert series with the people. This is our 10th installment of Gospel Jubilee at Proctors. I am truly blessed to return to the main stage of this historic beautiful theater after a two-year absence due to the pandemic. This challenging time of COVID-19 has affected all of us. The world events today are so heartbreaking to see. Folks want to be uplifted and we need to feed our spirits with something positive, and the best way to do this is through the arts and gospel music. I know that music and the arts are healing.
I grew up in the Capital District. My career background is in producing and presenting live shows and working with independent artists during my career in NYC. I returned to the Capital Region in 2006 and landed a job at Proctors. Special thanks to Philip Morris, Proctors CEO, and the creative team who gave me the opportunity to create and produce Gospel Jubilee. I have been given a platform that shares an uplifting program for all walks of life, all cultural backgrounds. I was baptized Catholic and went to Catholic school as a child; however, I was also raised in the Black church here in the Capital Region. I was always drawn to the spirit of gospel music, the voices of choirs and ‘real’ singers and musicians from all across the Capital Region. I am rooted in gospel music. Not as a singer (in my own home I sing), but I was always a great observer of talent in the church! Wilborn Temple Church First God in Christ in Albany and Refreshing Springs Church in Schenectady music programs stirred my soul from a young person growing up in Schenectady, NY.
RRX: I did receive the information that you sent me but rather myself talking about the performers, it’s probably best to hear it directly from you. Can you give us some insight on the performers and what we (the audience) can expect?
SH: The Jubilee Choir and Jubilee Band under the music direction of Reverend Dr. Elgin Joseph Taylor, Sr. (pastor of Sweet Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church, Albany) is comprised of singers and musicians from various churches in the Capital Region. Many of these singers have been singing in local church choirs since they were children. The Jubilee Choir is such a powerful soulful presentation. I am so grateful for their gifts; God has blessed them all with.
On Saturday, April 23, we have a special voice and an even more special anointing; Elder Lorraine Stancil-Lawson of New Jersey will perform. She has been a favorite invited guest for thousands of ministries, conventions and conferences for more than four decades. She began singing at an early age and has sung and worked with some legendary gospel artists in the industry, such as Kurt Carr and the Kurt Carr singers, Donnie McClurkin, the late Walter Hawkins and Karen Clark-Sheard to name a few.
RRX: I did notice that you are saluting two beloved Capital District women who were a part of the Gospel Jubilee Mass Choir, Regina “Gina” Parsons and Antonia “Toni” Brown. Please tell us more about these extraordinary women and what they mean to you and Gospel Jubilee.
SH: This program is bittersweet and joyful at the same. Regina Parsons and Antonia Brown I simply love and adore these two women of God. They were my sister-friends. Both trailblazers, phenomenal women who loved people and gave love through their ministry and gifted singing voices. They both were the real deal when it came to singing in the church and loved music and the arts. Regina Parsons was known for her voice and her famous sweet potato pie. She was born in Washington, D.C. to the late Pastor Elder Eugene W. Dix and Georgetta Dix, her parents founded Refreshing Springs Church of God in Christ in Schenectady. Regina was the voice. Singing was not only her passion but also her ministry. Since the inception of Gospel Jubilee, Regina has been a part of the Gospel Jubilee Choir.
Antonia Brown was unquestionably a worshiper and gifted singer and actress. She taught music, voice training and dance. In her early youth, Toni began singing and directing at Wilborn Temple First Church of God in Christ (Albany). She shared God’s gift on television, radio, concert halls, in the park and abroad, the Bahamas and Japan. She helped facilitate gospel music workshops for Rucker Gospel Ministries in Japan, teaching and directing choirs, performing solos, and leading praise and worship dance. She was a faithful member of the Gospel Jubilee Choir, and also an active member of the theater community, with show stopping performances all around the Capital Region. The Troy Record newspaper once wrote of Toni’s performance at Park Playhouse, “The entire cast is good but the show’s special moment comes when Antonia Brown as Motor Mouth Mabel rocks the amphitheater with a gospel version of “I Know Where I’ve Been” It’s a number to remember.
Gospel Jubilee is honored to celebrate these two women and give them the applause they so well deserved.
RRX: It’s hard not to be a fan of gospel music, it’s just so beautiful. Despite people’s backgrounds or views, gospel music can bring joy to the hearts of people from many various cultures. Are there any times in the past that you’ve witnessed the music bringing people of different faiths or denominations together?
SH: The centerpiece of the celebration is the audience and the spirit-raising presence of all walks of life in that theater. Oh yes; I have witnessed people from all faiths and cultures at our Gospel Jubilee concerts. Seeing people come together is beautiful.
RRX: Anything else that you would like to add to the conversation to entice folks to come out on Saturday April 23rd?
SH: I want people to not miss this gospel musical event; Gospel Jubilee has been recognized as a leading concert for all. In honoring Regina Parsons and Antonia Brown of the Capital Region, we also give thanks for not only their legacy; we give thanks for God’s love. Both these women were born to love, and they left us here; to love each other. They did the work, now what are we going to do to move that love forward?