Senior choir celebrates 100 concerts
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor
May 12, 2010

Senior choir celebrates 100 concerts

Senior choir celebrates 100 concerts
Dianna L. Cagle, BR Assistant Managing Editor
May 12, 2010

Milestones. Senior

adults know many milestones mark life as you get older.

But a milestone April

18 will hold a special place for some in Alexander Baptist Association as The

Singing Seniors sang its 100th concert at Antioch Baptist Church in


“It’s a family affair

of excitement,” said Kenneth Lambert, director of missions for Alexander

Baptist Association.

The associational group

started 11 years ago and averages one concert a month.

The 47-member choir is

led by Robert and Shelia Austin, members of Antioch where Shelia has been the

music director for more than 40 years.

Shelia covers most of

the directing duties and Robert sings in the choir and helps with public


“I do a little of the

talkin’ and I try to help a little with the plannin’,” he said.

At first the group sang

from a wide repertoire but over the years “the Lord moved us into a totally

religious venue,” Robert said.

The Austins both worked

in the education system and had retired. They anticipated their choir venture

would last six to nine months, but it grew rapidly and within two months they

had 40 members.

“They were so reliable

and dependable,” Robert said.

The choir meets on

second and fourth Tuesdays at a local senior center and uses the winter months

to learn a new musical. They perform at churches as well as nursing homes or

other venues.

“About once a month is about all our

folks want to be away from church,” Robert said.

The Austins try to

limit their performances to Sunday nights within a short driving distance.

One of the hardest

things is losing members, Robert said. With poor health and age comes the

inevitability of physical death.

“At the same time you get to see a lot of

beautiful people,” Robert said. “I don’t want it to end. I still get excited.”

Robert credits Shelia

with helping other choirs around the county. Because of her direction the

church choirs get better members.

BR photo by Dianna L. Cagle

Shelia Austin, right, leads the warm-up for The Singing Seniors, a choir in the Alexander Baptist Association. The group performed its 100th concert April 18 at Antioch Baptist Church in Taylorsville.

Plus, the music they purchase can be used by

other area choirs.

“I’m excited that we’ve

endured,” Shelia said. “I’m amazed at the progress. It’s been a blessing to me

personally to be involved.”

Shelia said choir

members range in age from early 50s to 80s. She’s thankful the associational

leaders have been supportive.

“It really became a

pretty good investment,” Robert said. “I think it’s been good for harmony

within the association.”

Vivia Cline, a choir

charter member, said the choir has been a good experience.

“Sheila works with us,”

Cline said.

“It doesn’t matter if

we make mistakes. She strives for better quality but most of all to praise the


Cline said Austin’s

patience has helped her learn a lot.

“We look forward to

coming to practice,” said Cline, who sings with the Austins in a trio and in

the choir at Antioch.

“I thoroughly enjoy

being with them,” Lambert said. “It’s a great fellowship. It’s not that we’re

professional (but) we enjoy what we’re doing.”

Rodney Boutwell, who

recently retired as minister of music at East Taylorsville Baptist Church,

worked with Austin on a Christmas musical about four years ago.

Six area

churches had done the same program so those churches decided to do a large

concert in January for the community.

Boutwell said the group

“reminds me what it’s like to be a choir member.”

“It’s good to keep the

voice in training,” Boutwell said. “Retirement is a joy but you don’t quit.”

Don Frye, who has been

a member nine years, said the group means a lot to him and his wife, Brenda.

They are members of Mount Herman Baptist Church in Taylorsville.

“Our group has become

so close knit,” Don Frye said. “It’s like we have a family reunion every second

and fourth Tuesday. It could be only for one reason that they spend so much

time with us. It’s a labor of love.”

“That’s what (Robert

and Shelia) exhibit to us,” Frye said. “They’ve truly been a blessing.”

Related videos

Interview with Robert Austin

Interview with Shelia Austin

The Singing Seniors perform Jesus, Hold My Hand

Choir performs God’s Gonna Send a Revival