Hallelujah! I am joyful to report that our Symphony of Soul Gospel Brunch fundraiser was a smashing success!
Our 120 guests gathered on the beautiful grounds of Mercury Hall while sipping on cocktails and enjoying the outstanding bluegrass tunes of the warm and wonderful Ritchie Mintz & Pickin’ Ranch. The charming men of The Medallion Quartet were in attendance as guests and delighted us with few a cappella barbershop quartet songs. What a lovely surprise! At noon, The Original Bells of Joy (Austin’s oldest and most-beloved black gospel group, dating back to the 1950’s), performed a glorious concert while our guests dined on the bountiful brunch prepared by Royal Fig Catering. I was honored to sing a white-girl-gospel song I’d written called “Appalachian Prayer” with “The Bells” singing back-up behind me. It was a thrill to then sing back-up for them on their last few songs.
We hadn’t planned on hosting another event until 2012 but the stars aligned and the whole concept of gospel brunch just flowed into place. After some serious soul-searching, the board and I agreed that Symphony of Soul is, at its core, a ministry. We aren’t about being the biggest and the most glamorous: we are about serving people in need through the power of live “musical medicine for the soul”. Once we clarified this for ourselves, everything unfolded with ease.
It all began in a rehearsal one day with my dear friend, pianist and new board member Terry Heller. We were playing through some gospel songs when the light bulb went off for both of us at the same time:
“Wouldn’t a gospel brunch be a great fundraiser for Symphony of Soul someday?”
“Oh, my goodness!” shouted Terry, “Speaking of ministries… We need to get you with The Bells of Joy! I’ve been friends with those guys for 30 years!”
And so it happened, Symphony of Soul and The Original Bells of Joy joined forces. Two ministries came together for the greater good. And it was, indeed, good! An anonymous sponsor stepped in to underwrite the event; Mercury Hall opened up as the ideal venue; Royal Fig Catering provided the perfect menu and the greatest of service from start to finish; The Bells of Joy welcomed Terry and me into their Tuesday night rehearsals at Corinth Baptist Church in East Austin, and on and on. Things just flowed.
Thank you to the many generous souls who made our gospel brunch such a success! It was wonderful to see everyone having such a grand time and we couldn’t have done this without the support of our anonymous donor for underwriting the event; the Ambler Family for contributing the beautiful floral arrangements; our terrific Board of Directors – my beloved husband Dr. George Rodgers, Jos DenHartog, Tamra Swindoll, and Terry Heller; our tremendous Advisory Board members Tommy Cowan and professional photographer Brenda Ladd who graciously photographed the event; and our stellar volunteers Sue Ann Zerre, Michelle Burns and Sherry Scott, the designer of our spectacular new brochures and other printed materials.
I greatly appreciate the dear souls who made pledges to Symphony of Soul and who purchased our “Sugar & Spice” compilation CD, wine, framed art and greetings cards. Thank you, to the wonderful Ritchie Mintz & Pickin’ Ranch and to The Medallion Quartet, for sharing your outstanding music and precious selves with us. Thank you to The Original Bells of Joy for opening your hearts to me, for including me in your lives and in your rehearsals, for sharing in the experience of music with me, and for blessing us with a truly uplifting performance.
We so appreciate all of the wonderful friends who attended from all around Austin and as far away as Dallas and Houston. How delightful it was to have guests ranging in age from 3 years young to 100 years old! Thank you to those wonderfully supportive friends who sent in donations even though they weren’t able to attend the event. Our organization grows ever brighter, thanks to the many lovely souls who support our mission. On behalf of Symphony of Soul, I thank each and every one of you for your friendship.
After the brunch, our friends The Bailey’s said, “This was the best event we’ve been to in a long time! We don’t want to leave!” I was please to hear so many people say that we must make Symphony of Soul Gospel Brunch an annual tradition. Yes, I do believe we’re on to something! Amen to that!
With blessings and appreciation,