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This Weekend in Stanly County

By Bridget Huckabee

This weekend in Stanly County attend a fun event to learn about some of downtown Albemarle’s history and follow that up with some gospel music at the Agri-Civic Center.

On Saturday at 2 pm Lewis Bramlett will give a talk about the Opera House above Starnes Jewelers Shop on West Main Street in downtown Albemarle. Bramlett is the great-grandson of F. E. Starnes, one of the original owners of the building. The program is hosted by the Stanly County Public Library. The event will begin at Falling Rivers Gallery, next door to Starnes, with wine and cheese and then continue with a tour of the Opera House. His program will cover information about the origin of the Opera House, other occupants of the building, performances that were held during the glory days of the Opera House and what has happened since the curtain came down for the last time. No program on the Albemarle Opera House would be complete without the mention of the ghosts that some people believe still linger.

On Saturday at 6 pm the gospel groups Karen Peck and New River and Brian Free and Assurance will perform at the Agri-Civic Center.

Karen Peck and New River is a 3-time Grammy Award Nominated and 4-time GMA Dove Award Winning Southern Gospel. Karen’s flawless, delightful soprano voice has made its way into the hearts of Gospel Music lovers across the country and garnered an unprecedented 11 Favorite Soprano Fan Awards from the readers of The Singing News Magazine, Southern Gospel Music’s leading fan and trade publication. Karen Peck and New River started in 1991 when Karen and her sister, Susan, with Karen’s husband Rickey, organized the musical entourage of Karen Peck and New River. Today the New River team consists vocally of Karen, Susan, and Ricky Braddy. Additionally, Karen’s husband, Rickey, serves as the group’s road manager and sound technician, Karen and Rickey’s son, Matthew, plays guitar, and their daughter, Kari, sings and is also the group’s product manager, making New River a complete family affair. Susan’s husband, David, is the founder and owner of the Jackson Steel Guitar Company.

Brian Free, of the group Brian Free and Assurance is undeniably the most recognizable southern gospel tenor of our generation. Since 1982, he has been at the forefront of southern gospel music since first joining Gold City Quartet, then moving on to form his own group. Southern Gospel music has always been Brian’s first love, and fans have responded to his music by honoring him and the group at the Dove Awards for Southern Gospel Performance of the Year, “Say Amen,” in 2014 as well as “Long As I Got King Jesus” in 2006. Brian Free and Assurance has also made a number of notable television appearances, including Hee Haw and the “Today Show”. In the summer of 2014, BFA was chosen by BBC to represent Elvis Presley’s love of Gospel Music on That’s Alright Mama, a Tribute to Elvis Presley with his arrangement of Peace In The Valley.