Alvin Darling & Celebration take the stage Friday

Alvin Darling & Celebration, Sharon Clarke of Columbus and the Youth and Children Choir of Franchise Missionary Baptist Church in Phenix City will be in concert at 7:30 p.m. Friday at Columbus State University.

Columbus is one of two cities to sponsor the first “God’s Blessing Is On The Way 2009 Tour.”

Darling, of New Jersey, will perform such songs as “From Me To You Lord,” “All Night,” “In The Sanctuary,” and “You Deserve My Worship.”

Darling began singing at a young age when his grandmother took him to church. While growing up, he joined several quartet groups. One such group gave him an opportunity to travel and perform with many artists. And he has traveled to many countries abroad such as Germany, Holland, and Switzerland.

Alvin Darling is the pastor of Greater Zion Baptist Church in New Jersey and Old Ship of Zion Church in Long Island, N.Y.

He has written songs such songs as: Shirley Caesar’s “I Won’t Let Go,” Albertina Walker’s “Holding On,” and “He Keeps Blessing Me” and Dorothy Norwood’s “Somebody Prayed For Me.”

Other songs he has to his credit as a writer include “Victory Is Mine,” “Have Your Way Lord,” “The Storm Is Almost Gone,” “When There Is A Praise In The Temple;” “God Can” and “I Am What God Says I Am.”

One of his most famous creations is the song “He’s All Over Me,” which was recorded on “The Preacher’s Wife” CD by Whitney Houston and Shirley Caesar and performed by Loretta Divine in the movie.

The song “All Night” was nominated for a GMA Dove Award in 2006. He was a 2008 Stella Awards Nominee for traditional Male Vocal of the Year and Celebration was a nominee for Traditional Group of the Year.

Darling’s hit songs such as “You Deserve My Worship,” In the Sanctuary,” “From Me To You Lord” and “Nobody But The Lord,” are regularly performed by many church choirs throughout the United States.

“Columbus has been on my mind for a gospel venue,” concert promoter Harry Ross of Atlanta said in a statement. “I had no earthly idea the facility at Columbus State University existed.” Ross said he was particularly attracted to the venue’s smaller, intimate setting. He envisions more concerts at CSU, to include Vickie Winans, the Spinners, Shirley Caesar and Smokie Norful.

Sharon Clarke, born and raised in Columbus, will make her first gospel debut with Alvin Darling & Celebration. She has performed for the Georgia Black Caucus, during the Presidential campaign for the late Ronald Regan, a benefit concert with recording artist Vickie Winans, and with Paramount Pictures for the filming of the movie, “The Fighting Temptations.”

She is a member of the Friendship Baptist Church Voices In Praise Team Choir. As part of this choir, she has recorded “Praise Him,” “Why Not Do It Today,” “I Love the Lord” and “Jesus You’ve Been Good to Me.”

Clarke is a graduate of Spencer High School and Columbus State University. She is the Pulmonary Lab Coordinator at The Medical Center.

“This is a great opportunity for me to be on the upcoming gospel program featuring Alvin Darling & Celebration,” Clarke said in a statement. “It is a blessing to be a part of such an event and having the opportunity to perform on my own.”

The Franchise Youth and Children Choir, with 43 children ages 5-18, will perform and backup Darling on stage with the song “All Night.”

The children and young adults rehearse weekly at Franchise Missionary Baptist Church in Phenix City, under the direction of Minister Chris Godwin.

They have won numerous awards and were first runnerup in the Southeast District State Convention’s Youth Rally Choir Competition in 2008 and 2009. They have participated in choir anniversaries, concerts, and have joined pastor the Rev. Raymond Cochran in many of the programs he has attended over the years.

“These kids are delighted to be given the opportunity” to perform in the concert, Godwin said. “I have worked hard with the youth of our church teaching them you have to give respect in order to receive respect. They bought into the concept and it is evident in the choir’s success and talent.”

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