Students sing with The Celts Saturday night

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Students from Sallie B. Howard School for the Arts and Education will join in a celebration of the holiday season tonight when Christmas With The Celts comes to the Boykin Center in downtown Wilson.

Select members of the chorus and gospel choir from the school will perform “A Very Merry Christmas” by John Lennon.

“Since I was a little boy, I used to watch on PBS some productions with The Celts,” said Jeremy Herring, gospel choir director and former chorus teacher at the Wilson charter school. “I am familiar with their music and their presentation and production, and it is always massive. It’s great.”

The Celts is an internationally known, Australia-based group. Its members include Ric Blair, on vocals, guitar, bodhran and piano; Elmear Artkins on vocals, fiddler, bodhran, banjo, five-string bass, drums; and a lively group of Irish dancers.

Christmas with the Celts is a mix of traditional Irish and American pop music along with some originals from the group.

Herring said the singers from Howard are excited to take the big stage for the performance.

“Sallie B. Howard is a stepping stone for kids so that they can actually take what they have, their gifts, to another level. That’s the whole point,” Herring said. “At Sallie B. Howard, we are really blessed to have over 11 types of performing and non-performing arts, so that our kids can actually present them to the world. What they are doing is learning from us, and they will teach their kids, and their kids will teach their kids, so it is just going to be from generation to generation.”

Howard student Daniela Mojica-Uriostegui said the concert is an opportunity to sing with a lot of people. “It makes me feel stronger because we are singing in a group,” she said.

“I like singing because it makes me happy and it makes me joyful, and I know that I am praising the Lord and it makes people happy,” said student Blanca Saray Orozco Perez. “I know that we have to work hard to make it seem like we are together. It makes me happy because I know that we have accomplished something we really wanted.”

Manuel Martinez, chorus teacher at Sallie B. Howard, said the students are setting a new standard.

“We are letting the kids know that they have talent and to not be shy about using that talent,” Martinez said. “We are letting them know that it is a gift that they have that they have to share with everyone.”

Martinez said it has been a joy hearing the students prepare for the concert.

Martinez, a former student at the school who has now returned to teach, said the school was founded on the belief that you have to work for your community.

“Sallie B. Howard instilled in us when we were younger to share what you have and share it with the community,” Martinez said.

Tickets to tonight’s show are $35 for adults, $32.50 for students and seniors, and will be available at the door. The show begins at 7:30 p.m. The Boykin Center is located at 108 Nash St. in downtown Wilson.