Hollywood's Queen Latifah and Dolly Parton are helping to sing the praises of church choirs everywhere with this weekend's National Choir Appreciation Sunday.
The national campaign celebrates singers and musicians giving it their all for God every week. The first event of its kind, it attracted Parton and Latifah given the pair's participation in "Joyful Noise," a new movie out next Friday. In it, they portray two women competing over their choir's musical direction at a small Georgia church.
"You know, when I was a little girl, my favorite part of church service was hearing the choir sing," Parton told America's choirs in a video on ChurchAppreciationSunday.com. "Of course, they made it seem so easy. What I didn't know, until I was older, was just how much effort goes into making a song sound good. All the hours you volunteer to make that service uplifting are not lost on me."
"That's going to be the day churches nationwide are going to be celebrating the folks like you who make such a joyful noise," Latifah added in her own video on the site. "May God bless you always for the important work you do."
Both Parton and Latifah personally sing in "Joyful Noise," leading their own fictional choir in the faith-based film. Its soundtrack symbolizes the hard work of real choirs nationwide, highlighting the fact that many choir participants perform as a labor of love for the Lord. According to ChorusAmerica.org, 32.5 million adults regularly sing in choruses, and one in five American households counts a choir member among their ranks.
Kathy Fernandes, vice president of marketing for J.W. Pepper, said in a statement her sheet music publishing company was happy to honor so many souls singing for Christ. She said she encouraged churches to thank and celebrate their choirs on Sunday any way they see fit.
"We are thrilled to be part of such a worthwhile event that honors those that give so selflessly for the life and vitality of the church," Fernandes said in the statement. "We envision January 8, 2012 as a day designated for churches nationwide to thank their choirs – volunteers of time and inspiration – for the joyful noise they provide week in and week out all year long."
The event will do more than just thank choirs; it will also shower them with prizes. ChurchAppreciationSunday.com said church choirs can register online for a sweepstakes ending Sunday. The winner will receive $5,000 for their church, it said, and any church that registers can attend free advance screenings of "Joyful Noise" before it opens nationwide next week.
Support for the event is proving popular online, with over 27,000 users liking the group's Facebook page. Before Sunday's drawing, participating churches and their members can thank their choir members on ChurchAppreciationSunday.com and share ideas for making their musicians feel loved.
As of press time, there were 44 pages and counting of thank you notes for choirs nationwide.
"The best way to show appreciation for our church choir is to remember them in prayer, and if a member of the choir, to always be at rehearsal," wrote Sydney Davis, a member of Clinchfield Baptist Church in Marion N.C. "We have a wonderful choir director, and we are all one big, happy family singing for our Lord Jesus."