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With smiles stretched across their faces and arms raised in praise, the members of the Refreshing Springs Kingdom Choir practiced on Tuesday like they’ve been doing every week for the past decade.
But this time, there was a little extra bounce in the choir’s step.
That’s because, in about six weeks, the group of over two dozen men and women representing Refreshing Springs Church of God in Christ will be performing in front of a worldwide audience.
They’re called the Kingdom Image Awards, an annual program that celebrates the accomplishments of Christian and Gospel musical artists. It will take place from Oct. 7-9 in Columbus, Ohio.
And this year, the Refreshing Springs Kingdom Choir is nominated for two awards: Album of the Year (Refreshing Springs Experience) and Large Group of the Year.
The choir will even be able to perform during the awards program, singing a song titled “None Like You,” written by the group’s minister of music, Bryant Toles.
It’s an honor that Toles said is very humbling.
“It’s honestly a dream come true because I never thought in a million years that something I would write would be put on a national stage,” he said. “And I never even thought we’d be on a national stage singing. We sing at different conventions and things, but this is a different type of national stage. This is broadcast all over the world. It’s crazy.”
Toles has been the choir’s minister of music for nearly the past decade, and he said that this is by far the highest achievement he’s been a part of with the program.
But he admitted he’s also not surprised.
“We have a lot of fun, that’s the main thing,” he said. “I love these people because they know how to have fun. They know how to take criticism. … They’re an amazing group to work with. … They have an open mind, open spirit, just willing to work. That’s one of the things I love about them.
“And honestly, the main thing that we want to get out of this is that God gets all the glory,” Toles added. “We’re not doing this to glorify anyone else but God. This is strictly for Him. We’re here to uplift the people, but our job is just to glorify God and make music that reaches audiences and can relate to all walks of life.”
Tarita Brown, wife of Refreshing Springs’ Pastor Wendell Brown, agreed with Toles, saying it will be amazing to see a “small town” choir sing on such a global platform.
“We’re just in awe and excited,” she said. “We want to win of course, but just to be nominated for something like this when you think of how many thousands of musicians and songs and choirs … for them to be able to listen to our music and say, ‘Hey, they’re good.’ That’s humbling. I’m just excited and happy and ready to go.”
Deacon Yancy Hollonquest, who serves as the church’s IT director, added that he was taken aback by the nominations and was thrilled when he found out.
“You see the documentation you have to do for this, like how long you’ve been around, how many sales you have, things like that,” he said. “And if you look at it, the choir doesn’t stack up to some of the people that are actually on there. So for them to see the spirit of God that flows through us and to say that, ‘Hey, you are a finalist in not one but two categories,’ that’s just amazing.”
But while it’s an honor to be nominated, the Refreshing Springs Kingdom Choir also obviously wants to win.
And that’s where you come in.
Winners from the Kingdom Image Awards are all voted on, with voting ending on Sept. 1.
To vote for Refreshing Springs Kingdom Choir, visit the awards’ website at https://kingdomimageawards.com/vote/.
Search for “Album of the Year” and “Large Group of the Year,” and vote as often as you’d like.
“This award is not just for the choir,” member Janet Christie said after practice wrapped up last week at the church. “It’s not just for Refreshing Springs. We’re representing our city. We’re representing our county and our state. So vote. We’re trying to represent everyone. And a vote for us is a vote for Kokomo.”
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