Music of the South, Ol’ 74 Jazz Band to be featured in Community Chorus spring concert

Published 10:00 pm Tuesday, February 14, 2017

Rehearsals get underway on Monday, Feb. 20 at 6:30 p.m. for the Community Chorus’ annual spring concert, set for Sunday, April 30 at Polk County High School.

A program of music titled “Singing and Swinging through the South” will be performed by members of the chorus and the Ol’ 74 Jazz Band of Rutherford County. Proceeds from the concert benefit the Rotary Club of Tryon Scholarship Fund.

Some of the selections from the chorus will include “Rocky Top,” “The Yellow Rose of Texas,” “The Birth of the Blues,” “A Tribute to Stephen Foster,” and music from the acclaimed American opera and Broadway production, “Porgy and Bess,” by George and Ira Gershwin and Du Bose Heyward. An audience sing-along will also include “Carolina in the Morning” and “Carolina Moon.”

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“I hope members of the chorus, as well as the community, will enjoy this program of music that celebrates the South,” said Lesley Bush, guest conductor. “The South’s unique culture has often been depicted in novels and poetry, films and plays, but I think it’s the region’s musical heritage that best portrays the diversity of style, manners and traditions that can only be explained as Southern.”

The 18-member ensemble from Rutherford County known as Ol’ 74 Jazz Band will perform on stage with the chorus. Two of their selections are “Georgia on My Mind,” made famous by Ray Charles, along with the big-band title of the 1940s, “Chattanooga Choo-Choo!”

A native of Polk County, chorus director Bush graduated from Mars Hill College (now Mars Hill University) in 1988 with a bachelor’s degree in religion. He continued his education at the Southern Baptist Theological Seminary, Louisville, Ky., and was ordained in 1989.

Bush is a former member of the North Carolina Baptist Singers, and has been the accompanist for the Third Century Singers of Goldsboro, N.C. He is an officer of the Rutherford County Historical Society. He has served as photographer and research assistant for 25 historical publications. He enjoys family genealogy and is a member of the Sons of the American Revolution.

He is in his 14th year as the minister of music and director of communications at Tryon Presbyterian Church. Bush lives in Rutherfordton.

The Community Chorus will again be accompanied this spring by local musician and music educator Pam McNeil. McNeil is a graduate of St. Andrews University and Western Carolina University, where she served as accompanist and had her first experience with the original Moog synthesizer.

She has played for the Community Chorus, Tryon Little Theater, churches, musicals, parties, friends and (once) a foster sheep. She is currently the organist at Tryon United Methodist Church and works at Saluda Elementary School.

Members of The Carolina Community Chorus are from Polk, Rutherford, Henderson and Spartanburg Counties. There is no charge or audition required to join. If you love to sing, you are more than welcome to join the chorus. After Feb. 20, rehearsals will be at 7 p.m. at Tryon Presbyterian.

For more information, check out the Community Chorus website at or on Facebook: Carolina Community Chorus.

– article submitted by Sandra Sibley