Will Harris and Friends performed at Moore Hall Auditorium on Feb. 22 at 7 p.m., after an invite from Dr. Robert Canida, director of the Office for Diversity and Inclusion (ODI).
Harris is a native from Oxford, Miss. and a renowned musician and singer. He came to Fayetteville, N.C. as a minister and put together a group of local singers. He recorded his CDs and DVDs called Everything to God in Prayer and A Songwriters Journal with the group of people, now referred to as the “Friends.” Harris also has other albums like Dream Again and He Knows My Name, with his singles “Never Forget It” and “Yes Lord.”
“I’ve met Will Harris eight years ago when he had his first album called ‘Dream Again’. I was asked to arrange a gospel concert and I said sure, so this is sort of a prelude to the one we’re going to do in April,” Canida said.
The performance opened with Phi Mu Alpha Fraternity singing “Let Your Light Shine on Me” and “Swing Down Sweet Chariot”. Chosen Generation, UNCP’s gospel choir, covered the song “Safe in His Arms” by Vickie Winans.
Paul Anderson, a member of Phi Mu Alpha, contributed with a song called “Keep Your Hand on the Plow” by Mahalia Jackson until the special guest’s final preparations. Canida came on stage to introduce Will Harris and Friends.
Will Harris and Friends opened with the song “Draw Me Close.” Then, they covered the song “Lift Every Voice and Sing” by James Weldon Johnson.
“I was a freshman in college and my English Professor asked me ‘what is your major going to be?” Harris said. “I was excited about it, so I said, ‘I’m going to be a music major’ and she had one question for me, ‘who wrote lift every voice and sing?’”
Will Harris and Friends sung two songs from the album A Song Writer’s Journal; “I Have Plans for You”, a song based off the scripture Jeremiah 21:11, and “Miracle Work”.
During a short break, Harris discussed with the audience the importance of never giving up no matter how long it takes.
“Listen Pembroke, I have a strong passion for college students and for the young people,” he said. “It took me seven years to get a bachelor’s degree but guess what, I’m working on a doctorate right now.”
They sang “Dream Again,” a song inspired for college students wanting to achieve their dreams from the Dream Again album. Harris discussed how there’s nothing too hard for God and how he ended up being in full time ministry when his original goal was to be an educator. They then performed “I Will Make It” from A Song Writer’s Journal.
“Young people continue to dream, don’t let anyone shoot your dreams down,” Harris said.
Harris led the singers into multiple song selections from inspired and influential artists. Songs like “Angels” and “Total Praise” by Richard Smallwood and “In the Sanctuary” and “For Every Mountain” by Kurt Carr.
Harris and Friends ended the night with a saying from his hometown, telling the audience it was a “plum pleasing pleasure” to be with them. Ending the showcase with their final selection, “God Bless You Forever.”
Canida returned to the stage to thank everyone for coming out and said that Harris and Friends did the performance at no charge, so the audience can support them by buying their music.
Harris’ albums are available on Spotify, iTunes and Google play.
There will be a concert on April 28 called “Gospel Extravaganza” in Moore Hall Auditorium.
PN Photo/Octavia Johnson