Royal sound makes rounds on 'Stand By Me Tour'

PHOTO PROVIDEDThe London-based British gospel choir poses for a photo in their finery. The group, who performed at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle, will collaborate with the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir for a concert tonight at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts. 

LAKE PLACID — Hear the soul-stirring harmony of The Kingdom Choir Friday evening at the Lake Placid Center for the Arts.

The London-based British gospel choir, led by founder/conductor/workshop leader Karen Gibson, were catapulted to international fame after their stellar performance at the wedding of Prince Harry and Meghan Markle on May 19, 2018.

The choir comes to Lake Placid on its "Stand By Me Tour," and the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir will open under the artistic direction of Dr. Dexter Criss.

"The gospel choir is excited to open for the internationally known Kingdom Choir," Andrea Ogle, Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir director, said.

"This is an incredible opportunity we didn't even imagine would open itself to us in our own backyard. This makes for great forerunner for our Soulful Christmas concert. This year's theme is a Motown Soulful Christmas on December 8th."



The choir's stripped down and riveting arrangement of Ben E. King's “Stand By Me” along with the nuptials closer medley of “Amen” and “This Little Light of Mine” were heard by 1.9 billion people who tuned in to watch Prince Charles and the late Princess Diana's youngest son marry the American actress noted for her role as Rachel Zane on USA Network's “Suits.”

The Duke and Duchess of Sussex wed in St. George's Chapel in Windsor Castle, but LPCA executive director James Lemons didn't get up at 4 a.m. to watch the royal wedding.

A love of gospel music, it was Prince Charles' idea to have a gospel choir at the ceremony.

Lemons saw the repeats later on in the day.

“They (The Kingdom Choir) made such a media splash due to their performance,” he said.

“I found out they were touring last January. I knew they were touring in the U.S. We worked with their agents before, and I thought what a unique opportunity for our Lake Placid community to be able to experience these artists from Europe that they wouldn't normally have the chance to see live. I thought it was a good opportunity to benefit our community.”



Friday's concert was originally slated for St. Bernard's Church in Saranac Lake.

“It's part of our normal presenting season,” Lemons said.

“We thought it would be a fantastic environment to experience this music in. Unfortunately when we got into it, the technical requirements of what they needed to pull the concert off ... we're not a tower. We had to move it back over here, so we would be able to pull off all the logistical elements.”

The venue is 15 tickets shy of being sold out.

“Which is really good for us,” Lemons said.

“It's a last-minute crowd we're anticipating. I'm doing pretty well.”



LPCA patrons are getting an additional bonus with program opener the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir.

“I was reaching out to local organizations to see if they wanted to attend as groups to do group ticket sales,” Alison Simcox, LPCA director of marketing, said.

“I knew of the Gospel Choir at SUNY Plattsburgh. I'm a cellist, and I had played with them at the springtime high-school festival. I was blown away by them, so of course I added them to my list to make sure they knew about this concert coming up.”

When she told her Plattsburgh State contacts about the opportunity, they got back right away.

“They said, 'Oh my gosh, this feels like fate because we've done one of their songs that they do,'” Simcox said.



The Plattsburgh Gospel Choir had also performed in Vermont for The Most Rev. Michael Bruce Curry, Presiding Bishop and Primate of The Episcopal Church, who also became famous for his sermon on the power of love at the Duke and Duchess of Sussex's wedding in Windsor.

“They said, 'Is there any chance of opening?'” Simcox said.

“We thought it was a fantastic idea, so we got in contact with artists' management to find out if it could be a possibility, and they liked it to so we were able to add them to the performance.”

The LPCA administration loved it also, and thought it was a better fit for its mission.

“To incorporate folks that are doing this art locally and have that collaboration,” Simcox said.

“For people who are coming to the performance they get to see local musicians and musicians from the international scene both perform together.

“It just sort of came together organically, and we were really happy that it was able to work out.”


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WHO: The Kingdom Choir with the Plattsburgh State Gospel Choir.

WHEN: 7:30 p.m. Friday, Nov. 8

WHERE: Lake Placid Center for the Arts, 17 Algonquin Dr.

ADMISSION: $20 Advance/$25 Day of Show.

PHONE: 518-523-2512


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