The last song Ellis Johnson will conduct as director of the Augusta Chorale is the stirring Broadway hit You'll Never Walk Alone.
Mr. Johnson need not worry about ever walking alone. Not in this community. His music truly brings people together.
The chorale's spring concert - 4 p.m. Sunday at Paine College's Gilbert-Lambuth Memorial Chapel - officially bears the theme "Songs of Hope and Inspiration." But it also is the final directorial performance for Mr. Johnson, who is retiring from the chorale after more than 20 years of leadership.
"My inner spirit says it's time," Mr. Johnson said simply.
All told, he has spent at least 50 years enriching Augustans with his musical talent, gaining mention of his fine singing while a student with Paine College's chorus and at local church functions. If there's a church in town where Mr. Johnson hasn't sung, we'd like to know about it.
He doesn't air out that wonderful tenor voice as often as he used to, but he has given others much to sing about. His knowledge and love of music drew him to fill key leadership positions in Augusta's cultural community - serving at one time or another on boards for the Greater Augusta Arts Council, the Augusta Opera and the Augusta Museum of History.
When he's not at the director's podium, he helps make sure the arts are available to everyone. That's most apparent in his work with Augusta's Jessye Norman School of the Arts, which encourages middle-schoolers to explore their talents in music, art, dance and drama.
Don't miss the farewell concert of a man who helped shape the growth of choral performance in Augusta. For more information about the concert, call (706) 821-8295 or (706) 738-0746.
Admission is $15 for adults and $5 for students.
The soul-enriching experience of hearing superior choral music, however, will be priceless.