By MIRANDA BAINES
THE DAILY SOUTHERNER
Kristian Herring traveled with his brother Jeremy Herring to Las Vegas last weekend to attend Steve Harvey’s 11th Annual Ford Neighborhood Awards for Salvation and Deliverance Church Choir.
The 35-member Tarboro choir had been nominated for the award of “best church choir in the nation,” and once all the votes were tallied, the choir came out in second place.
“The church that won (Mount Lebanon Cathedral in Chesapeake, Va.) had about 18,000 members,” Herring said. “I don’t know how we were even able to compete with congregations that large.
“Edgecombe County/ Tarboro is a small area doing big things,” Herring always tells people.
The Herring brothers attended the awards show that Herring describes as “just like the Oscars or the Grammy’s.”
“Just to be on the blue carpet and to be on TV and to be on the same platform as … so many stars that were there and to be treated as an artist” was an unforgettable experience for Herring.
While he has no plans to quit his “day job,” as the new public information officer for Edgecombe County Public Schools, Herring told his brother Jeremy at the awards show,
“I could get used to this.”
Herring does not know who nominated Salvation and Deliverance for the award, and said that knowing someone out there really loves his choir’s music is a “humbling thought.”
Dr. Jamaal Harrison Bryant, a pastor from Baltimore, approached Herring at the awards show and said, “I have two phrases for you, ‘It Is Well With My Soul’ and ‘Hallelujah.’”
“Those are our two video clips on YouTube,” Herring said. “It was amazing that people know who we are.”
Salvation and Deliverance was first thrust into the national limelight in October 2011, when the group earned the title “Best choir in America” after winning the 2011 Verizon “How Sweet the Sound” competition in Los Angeles. The choir plans to perform the song once again at this year’s competition on Oct. 2 in Baltimore.
“Reaching the masses” is one of Herring’s goals with his music. While on the plane to Vegas, he wrote out a rap to Handel’s “And He Shall Purify.” One of the songs that made Salvation and Deliverance famous, “Hallelujah” was written by Handel about 350 years ago, and Herring arranged the classical piece to make it relevant to modern audiences.
“Any style you want to find, you’ll find in that piece that I arranged — calypso, go-go, classical, jazz, a cappella,” said Herring.
Inspiring people, especially young people, with his music, is another of Herring’s goal and the theme of the Neighborhood Awards, uplifting neighborhoods in need, resonated with him. Judge Mathis shared the message with awards recipients.
“It’s all about uplifting the neighborhoods, especially in this area where a lot of people are economically deprived and there’s not a lot to do for young people,” Herring said. “You’ve got to have that theme of positivity so people know that there’s something better out there and that it’s attainable. But it comes with hard work; no good thing comes without sacrifice.”
At about the age of 4, Herring started singing in the church choir founded by his mother. Singing in front of an audience was and still is a type of transformation for Herring, who describes himself as a naturally shy person in everyday life.
“It’s like an out-of-body experience. I become a different person,” he said.
Herring hopes the awards show puts Tarboro “on the map so people can see the great things that are happening in our town.”
“I’ve got a lot of nominations to make for next year,” he said, with a smile.