Edwards concert to benefit Havana Relay for Life

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By Angye Morrison

Quincy native Craig Edwards will be in concert at Tallavana Community Church Dec. 12 at 6 p.m. to benefit the Havana Relay for Life – and he said supporting this cause is something near and dear to his heart.

“I lost my uncle last year to cancer, and I have friends right now who have it,” he said, adding that the community should come out and support the American Cancer Society, the Relay and anyone they know who has cancer.

Edwards is the son of R.D. and Ethel Edwards, and he said since Quincy is a small town and his dad was once chief of police, he couldn’t get away with anything when he was growing up.

“Everybody knew him and knew everything his kids were doing. Growing up in Quincy was the best life a child could have; with a mama and a daddy who love you and brothers and sisters to beat up on you,” he said with a laugh. “It’s a great community to grow up in and it taught me to just be myself.”

That has carried over into his career as a gospel recording artist, something he came to later in life.

“I have no idea what I’m doing,” he said. “I understand that this is a business but I just want to be myself. I want God to use me just how I am.”

Edwards has loved music all his life and said his childhood was filled with it. He didn’t sing in public, however, until he was 33 years old. That performance came after  hearing a sermon series on gifts, which helped him understand that if you don’t use your God-given gifts, you can lose them. After hearing that series of sermons and playing a “life-changing” game of golf with Pastor Greg Kell, he joined the choir at Thomas Memorial Baptist Church in Quincy and started singing.

Edwards and his wife, Bridget, moved with their two children, Noah, 10, and Noelle, 6, to Panama City 5 years ago, where they attend Hiland Park Baptist Church. Edwards is employed by the U.S. Postal Service as a letter carrier, and Bridget is an English teacher.

Following that move, Edwards signed with Paradigm Records, and he’s traveled throughout the Southeast and Maryland performing. His family travels with him, and Edwards said he’s able to perform through a lot of “strategic planning” when it comes to his full-time job.

He’s open to the idea of going full-time with his music ministry, if the opportunity presents itself.

“I get a lot of pleasure out of singing. What I feel comes out in song; not a lot of people get to express that kind of joy through music. If God lets me (go full-time), I absolutely would,” he said. “If not, I’m happy with what I’m doing.”

Edward jokes that he never thought anyone would ever want to hear him sing.

“My mama gets on to me,” he said. “When I sing, a lot of times, I close my eyes. I’m singing to God. I close my eyes and I can see the words of the song as I’m singing them. What I feel just comes out.”

Edwards said he is influenced by his favorite artists from his childhood, like Journey, James Taylor, Steve Warner and The Temptations. He says his style is contemporary and diverse.

“I’m not sure who I sound like now,” he said. “I think I’m a mixture of all of those.”

At next month’s concert, Edwards will be singing selections from his current Christmas CD, “From Our Home To Yours,” along with some traditional Christmas songs. The CD also features his children, who have both shown they have inherited their dad’s gifts in music.

“I encourage them (to sing),” he said. “I want them to use whatever talents they have now, and not wait until late in life like I did.”

Edwards hopes to get  back into the studio  in early 2010 to record a new project. He hasn’t written any songs yet, but is open to the idea.

Edwards was excited that one of the songs he recorded, “My Hope is in the Lord,” was recorded by The Talley Trio.

“They heard me sing it and asked if they could record it,” he said. Their rendition went to No. 2 on the charts. The song was written by Edwards’ friend, Travis Oaks, who lives in Tallahassee.

For his recordings, Edwards chooses music from a wide range of music submitted to his label by songwriters. He said when he hears a song that touches him, he just knows he has to sing it.

“Some of the music (for the new project) are songs that just floor me,” he said. “I really want to do songs that touch lives.”

In addition to the Christmas album, Edwards’ other two CDS, “Craig Edwards” and “I’m Gonna Move,” will be available for purchase at the concert venue.

Opening for Edwards will be the gospel group, Consumed.

Tickets are available in advance only at a cost of $10 by calling Relay chair Pam Gay at 694-1976,  Donna Dunn at 539-6626 or Shelia Gavins at 539-6565. Tickets may also be purchased at The Gadsden County Times Monday through Friday, 8:30 a.m. to 5 p.m. The Times is located at 15 S. Madison St. in Quincy. Checks must be made payable to Pam Gay, Relay chair.

Seating is limited. The church is located at 5840 Havana Highway.

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