Make us your home page

Today’s top headlines delivered to you daily.

(View our Privacy Policy)

Bringing a joyful noise

Strawberries and soul-saving.

Related News/Archive

Funnel cakes and funneling the word.

Deep-fried goodies and gospel.

It may seem an odd combination, like the Krispy Kreme burger or chocolate-dipped bacon, but for more than a decade, the Bible-Based Fellowship Church Cathedral Choir has brought its gospel performances to the Florida Strawberry Festival.

The choir from the popular church located on Ehrlich Road in Carrollwood returns this Saturday to the Sweetbay Supermarket Showcase Tent at 7 p.m. And maybe the question should be why not, instead of why?

"There are so many people hurting and lost who don't normally find themselves stumbling into our church," said Corey Edwards, director of the cathedral choir. "Our objective is to take our message to a format and venue like the Strawberry Festival so we can spread the good news to hurting and lost people who need help spiritually and mentally."

Of course, Edwards recognizes that when you're competing with tasty smells, wild rides and other entertainment acts, the choir can't show up with reserved hymns and quiet musical meditations.

No, Bible-Based truly brings a joyful noise to its performances.

Last year, after watching my daughter perform with Miss Judy's Dance Academy and devouring a few treats, we were exiting the festival grounds and making our way to the car when the choir's sweet strains grabbed my attention.

We stood outside the gates and watched for several minutes, the contagious energy making it impossible to walk on by — whether you believe or not. The choir delivers its brand of inspiration with rollicking enthusiasm and gospel's trademark call and response cadence.

Others joined us outside the fence but inside, the tent was filled with an audience excited about the musical missionaries.

"At the festival, there are a lot of things designed to draw people's attention," Edwards said. "We're no different. We have to have an upbeat feel in order to garner the attention."

Bible-Based choir also calls on the legendary talents of its pastor, Arthur T. Jones, who has recorded and produced 14 albums with the world famous Florida Mass Choir. Health issues may keep Jones from performing with this group this year, but he led past performances and Edwards said people have come from all around Tampa Bay to hear the songs he popularized with the mass choir.

In fact, it's Jones' reputation that helped Bible-Based become a staple at the festival. As the story goes, a woman who worked as a housekeeper for one of the festival board members recommended Jones after the board member expressed an interest in bringing a gospel act.

Because of the reputation Jones built with the mass choir, Bible-Based earned the nod.

"Once the relationship developed, we've been there every since," Edwards said.

Edwards also stressed that it's more than just singing. The church's outreach team of volunteers go into the audience and speak to people on an individual basis.

In the end, it works. Edwards said a number of people have been drawn to Bible-Based because they saw the choir perform at the festival.

As best as I can tell, the strawberry is not considered a biblical fruit.

But maybe it should be.

That's all I'm saying.

Bringing a joyful noise

03/07/13 [Last modified: Wednesday, March 6, 2013 12:57pm]
Photo reprints | Article reprints

© 2017 Tampa Bay Times


Join the discussion: Click to view comments, add yours

  1. Police: Uber driver's gun discharges during fight at Adventure Island in Tampa

    Public Safety

    TAMPA — An Uber driver's gun went off Sunday at Adventure Island during a fight between the driver and two passengers.

  2. Baker cautious on Pride politics


    Rick and Joyce Baker strode down Central Avenue Sunday amid rainbow flags, corporate booths, and blaring music of the St. Pete Pride Festival.

    St. Petersburg mayoral candidate Rick Baker chats Sunday with people at the St. Pete Pride Festival. As mayor, Baker did not sign a Pride parade proclamation, but now he says he would.
  3. Rays' bullpen stars lit up in loss to Orioles

    The Heater

    ST. PETERSBURG — Saturday it was the soft underbelly of the bullpen that let one get away from the Rays, incurring the wrath of the team's faithful followers, who wondered why the high-leverage guys weren't pitching.

    Rays closer Alex Colome, coming in with the score tied in the ninth, allows three runs in his second straight poor outing.
  4. Lightning among early suitors for defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk

    Lightning Strikes

    TAMPA — Lightning general manager Steve Yzerman said he planned to explore free agency for potential needs, which include bolstering his blue line and adding a wing or two.

    Defenseman Kevin Shattenkirk, who can be a free agent Saturday, counts the Lightning among his early suitors.
  5. Senate leaders try to appease members as support for health bill slips


    WASHINGTON — Senate Republican leaders scrambled Sunday to rally support for their health care bill, even as opposition continued to build outside Congress and two Republican senators questioned whether the bill would be approved this week.

    Sen. Rand Paul of Kentucky, speaking to reporters on Capitol Hill on Thursday, is one of the five Republican senators who announced they cannot support the health care bill as drafted.