Concert to benefit St. Paul building fund

By Greg Miller

   An upcoming concert by former Elizabethton resident Teresa Bowers Parker will benefit the building fund of St. Paul United Methodist Church.
   The concert will be held at Elizabethton High School's gymnasium on April 17 at 7 p.m.
   "When I was growing up I attended the church on occasion," Parker said. "Our community was such that though there were several churches we all attended functions at each other's churches. The training that I received as a child has had a profound influence in my life. I attended services, homecomings, picnics, etc., at all the churches. The Scripture that says 'train up a child in the way that he should go and when he is old he will not depart from it' applies to me. We had a lot of good training in our community and I am so glad."
   Music, Parker says, was shared in the family. "Both my mother and father sang," she said. "It is something that my sibblings and I have shared. Throughout high school and college to today, music is a part of me every day. I may not sing out loud but, oftentimes there is a song in my heart, helping me through the bad times and the good."
   To young people who are considering a music career, Parker gives the following encouragement: "If in your heart you know that the arts are where your happiness and your fulfillment lie, then do all you know to achieve your dream. It will take your believing in yourself and a lot of hard work to attain your goal. Do study, learn about your craft. Take time to be taught. There are those who are the Reuben Stoddards but the majority of us have worked in the industry at our craft and never received the noteriety or the fame that some have gotten. Yet, we were able to do what we loved to do, make music. One of the things that has to be considered is what is the ultimate goal - to perform or to be a star?"
   Parker will sing "music that I am able to identify with - that speaks to my heart. To sing the gospel is to tell the good news. The songs that I am able to sing are the ones that have a special meaning to me. Hopefully, I will be able to share that with those who will come to the concert."
   Parker has written a few songs that she has sung and some that others have sung. "The last few that I have written have been sung by the children in our church," said Parker, who currently resides in Brooklyn, N.Y.
   Parker began to work in musical theatre after graduate school. "I was in Cincinnati then and worked with a small company of performers," she said. "I came to New York to visit for two weeks and was able to get an audition for the show, 'Ain't Misbehavin.' She worked in that show for more than 3 1/2 years.
   "Then I worked in regional theatre, on tours, concerts," Parker said. "My last theatre performance was in a show in Cincinnati. Since then, I have done some concert work but primarily the singing that I do is in my church here in New York." Parker has a few solos on albums recorded with her church.
   Over the last few years, Parker observes that her career has changed. "I work fulltime in at CUNY (City University of New York) as counselor/coordinator for a program for a healthcare worker's union," she said. "This particular program offers those persons already working in healthcare the opportunity to go back to school and be educated in order that they may upgrade the jobs in which they are currently employed. I have been working in this university since 1998 and this position for a little over a year."
   She no longer works in theatre. "I teach private voice," she said. "I also work with the chorus at Baruch College."
   When asked about her style, Parker said, "I don't know if I have a style per se. I like to sing different kinds of music and have been blessed to be able to do so. I have been classically trained and use the basic technique to sing according to the style the music dictates."
   Parker's mother, sister, two brothers, cousin and uncle live in Elizabethton, and another sister lives in Johnson City. "I guess you would say everyone but me is at home," Parker said.
   Along with Parker, the concert will feature AMDC, from Johnson City; and The Reflections, from Kingsport. Tickets are available at Believers Christian Books and Gifts, 501 Broad Street, Suite 2, Elizabethton. Tickets are $6 for adults and $3 for children under age 10.
   For more information, call 612-5332 or 957-6693.