Bev McCann


Creekside Gospel Music Convention

Wilmington Choir has reason to Celebrate

Written by Staff on May 16, 2017 – 2:05 pm -

Wilmington Celebration Choir with Joey Gore

Wilmington Celebration Choir with Joey Gore

20 years of ministry celebration at Homecoming Concert in Wilmington, N. C.

By Lorraine Walker

The Wilmington Celebration Choir has a unique sound that is part worship choir, part Southern Gospel chorale. Led by Joey Gore, the choir has a tour schedule equal to many artists, and it is enjoyed by audiences across the Southeast, as well as Indiana and Connecticut and even South Africa. The group consists of both professional and volunteer singers and uses both accompaniment tracks and live bands.

“It all started when I came off the road [from the Anchormen] and started working with a church,” Gore begins. “Our first concert was in February 1997 with myself and seven friends. We put on a concert at Wrightsboro UMC (United Methodist Church) in Wilmington, N. C. Some of those same people still sing with me today. We called that event ‘Joey Gore & Friends.’”

Joey Gore, leader of Wilmington Celebration Choir

Joey Gore, leader of Wilmington Celebration Choir

Gore’s group of Friends began to grow.

“I had started doing some recording with local groups and decided to do a showcase-type concert to get them exposure in the local community,” Gore remembers. “At Christmas, we did a concert and put together a little choir. People loved it. Before long, we were doing the showcase of local artists along with the little choir backing it up.

 “The more places we went, the more people liked the whole idea of the choir thing. So we started calling it the Pillar Record Family Choir. As things changed over the years, we just merged it all together into the Wilmington Celebration Choir that people hear today.”  

From Gaither Homecomings to major Southern Gospel artist concerts to INSP television, this isn’t your typical community church ensemble. The vocalists ride a 30-passenger bus and carpool to attend concerts four to five hours from home. Don’t look for old-fashioned robes either. This professional Christian music choir looks smart in black with colored scarves. They will lift you up with praise music, let you get down and shout with Black Gospel, and get your hands clapping to Southern Gospel.

Gore was well equipped to handle this project, as the Lord had been training him all his life for just such a position.

“I began playing piano at age eight and loved Southern Gospel music and was in my first group around age 14,” says Gore. “I also was very active in high school with band and chorus and was student director of both.  

Joey Gore, leader of Wilmington Celebration Choir“My first professional group I played and sang with was Naomi and the Segos in the 1980’s, then later with the Anchormen Quartet. After that is when this all started, and I served in a local church for 18 years. I also have been playing piano with Lynda Randle for around 15 years and also with Karen Peck & New River on occasion when I can. The WCC has grown so much in the last few years that I felt the Lord leading me to leave the church position and work on this full time, along with working in the recording studio quite extensively too. Plus, I’m doing a few piano solo concerts too.”

Working with Wilmington Celebration Choir is definitely not the same as working with a Gospel music group.

“The biggest challenge we have is getting a lot of people where they need to be,” says Gore.  “Some venues we sing in are limited in space, and with the current group of around 65, that can wear you out. And it’s just a lot of people with ideas and such. I try to be strict but not over the top. It’s important to love and encourage people, and they will work harder. I’ve also learned (there’s) some stuff you can’t do anything about, so I just let it go. I’ve grown a lot in that area. If not, it will crush you.”

After 20 years, you would think Gore could direct the choir with one hand tied behind his back. Apparently, life isn’t like that.

“My biggest personal challenge is still trusting God,” Gore explains. “It seems – at times – people will be sick, out, can’t go, etc., and I start to worry how it’s going to turn out. However, every time God makes a way, and we have just what we need. Now, that is amazing. So I’m trying to relax more and let God handle it. Listening to His voice and prayer is the key. I would do it all over again for sure.”

The Wilmington Celebration Choir is going to revel in their 20-year milestone at their homecoming from June 2-3 at Pine Valley Baptist Church in Wilmington, N. C. On Friday night, they will share the stage with Karen Peck and New River, and on Saturday, they have invited back some of their alumni to perform, including Debra Hollis, Paula & Angie, and others.

Karen Peck and New River with the Wilmington Celebration Choir

Karen Peck and New River with the Wilmington Celebration Choir

Looking back on 20 years of travel, Gore remembers a few experiences that have kept him on his toes.

“I have missed planes, drove all night to make an event,” recalls Gore. “I do remember a couple of times that we actually had choir members fall off of the back row. One girl stepped into an orchestra pit, and we have left a few people at places too. But everyone turned out okay.

“We sang on a golf course one time for a wedding. Now, that was an experience. As the bride left the ceremony, we sang, ‘I’ll Fly Away’ … hilarious.”

The years have brought many special moments as well.

“We have been so blessed and never take any of the doors opening for granted,” Gore points out. “I guess one highlight is always working with Bill Gaither. He always is so nice and enjoys the choir on his concerts.

“Another thing that is currently happening is that I received a call from Rick Shelton over at Daywind, and we have been asked to premiere a new Christmas musical in Gatlinburg this summer at the LifeWay Worship Conference. That is very exciting for us. I hope something further will come from that. People always are asking for our music and arrangements in sheet music, so we’ll see what happens.”

Joey Gore with the Wilmington Celebration ChoirMany people sitting in the audience who love music will hear Gospel Music artists or the choir and want to become a part of it. To future members, Gore says, “The biggest thing with us is commitment. Singing I can work on, but if you are just interested on occasion, and not really committed, it won’t work for either party. We sing a lot these days, and most of my people just absolutely love it.”

With chorale music becoming more popular and school groups as well as other types of choirs popping up, there is more demand for leaders with the abilities and experience that Joey Gore has developed with the Wilmington Celebration Choir. However, Gore has no intention of leaving for possible greener pastures.

“I have no interest in secular choir,” says Gore. “I have done that, but this is (a) calling for me and these people. God has called us to spread the gospel to the lost person and bring encouragement and hope to the people that need it. In our world today, those things are needed sorely in the church and beyond.

“People need to laugh and have some joy also. It helps to press on in our walk with Christ. The end reward will be worth it.”

By Lorraine Walker

Also published in SGNScoops Magazine June 2017.

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Wilmington Celebration Choir Celebrates 20th Anniversary Homecoming Sing

Written by SGN Scoops Staff on May 10, 2017 – 11:46 am -

Wilmington Celebration Choir Celebrates 20th Anniversary Homecoming Sing

Wilmington Celebration Choir Celebrates 20th Anniversary Homecoming Sing

WILMINGTON, NC – The Wilmington Celebration Choir is thrilled to announce its 2017 Homecoming Sing which will take place on Friday, June 2, 2017 and Saturday, June 3, 2017 at the Pine Valley Baptist Church in Wilmington, North Carolina. While their homecoming concert promises to bring a Holy Spirit-filled night of worship, as well as special memories to last a lifetime, this year’s event will hold a special significance for the choir as they celebrate their 20th Anniversary as a group.


Friday night’s event will feature the Grammy Award Nominated and Dove Award Winning Southern Gospel group, Karen Peck and New River, as special guest along with the Wilmington Celebration Choir.  On Saturday night, the Wilmington Celebration Choir will include appearances not only by current group members, but also some of the choir’s alumni including Tender Mercy, Debra Hollis, Paula & Angie, Pam Blake and others.


Karen Peck Gooch shares, “We are very excited about being with the Wilmington Celebration Choir. For years now we have developed a long-lasting friendship that has bonded us together as we sing songs of praise to the Lord. We will forever be grateful to the many times the Wilmington Celebration Choir has taken out of their busy schedules to sing with Karen Peck and New River. We have been in some great anointed services together.  We cannot wait to see what the Lord will do in June. It will be a night of worship!”


Founded February 1997, the Wilmington Celebration Choir started with only seven members under the direction of Joey Gore. Today the choir continues strong, having grown to over sixty-five individuals with its roster ranging in age from 16 to 80 years old.


The Wilmington Celebration Choir has performed in South Africa, on the Bill Gaither Homecoming concert series, Abraham Production events, as well as with Gospel Greats such as… Geron Davis, The Hoppers, Lynda Randle, The Talleys, Carman and Jessy Dixon. The choir has also made several appearances on the INSP Television Network as well as on Royal Caribbean and Carnival Cruise Lines.


The Wilmington Celebration Choir is not your average “church choir.”  Under the continued direction of Joey Gore, the Wilmington Celebration Choir is a traveling Gospel choir with representatives from fifteen to twenty different churches, as well as across several denominations from a variety of cities around southeastern North Carolina.  With musical styles ranging from the traditional Hymns to Praise & Worship, Southern Gospel to Black Gospel and much more. Each concert provides a high-level of energy and excitement that captivates its audiences as the choir leads them into worship.


Director Joey Gore shares, “Our mission is to go out and encourage people in the Lord and to bring some hope, joy and laughter to people. In our current culture, choirs tend to be disappearing within the church. We hope to come in and encourage people, giving a breath of fresh air to those individuals who have lost their home church choirs.”


To learn more about the Wilmington Celebration Choir’s 20th Anniversary Homecoming Sing, visit Like them on Facebook at to stay connected through Social Media.
For scheduling, contact Karson McCullen at 910-214-2691 or via e-mail at

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