Originally created 08/11/01

Singing solo

Brenda Redd Bates is a rare concert performer - one who does not write her own songs.

"I have great friends who write great music," said Ms. Bates, who will be the headliner for a singles concert, dinner and dance at the North Augusta Community Center, 101 Brookside Drive, at 7 p.m. Friday.

Carolina BBQ will cater the event, sponsored by First Baptist Church of North Augusta. Tickets are $8 through Sunday and $10 at the door.

Ms. Bates, who performs three to four weekends a month, has a ministry of encouragement, said Corliss Derrick, minister to singles at First Baptist.

People, especially those who are alone, need to hear that the Lord still cares for them and has not forgotten them, said the singer, who goes to her tape table during concert breaks and talks to those who stop by.

Ms. Bates is single today, but not by choice.

  Brenda Redd Bates
In The Shadow of His Wings
"My Heart's Already There"

She has been divorced, remarried and then widowed. "Basically, this is not where I thought I would be at 42 - single," she said. "At first it was a very difficult place for me to be - and (it) continues to be - but the Lord has a plan, and he has used all of this to encourage me through other believers."

She met her first husband while they were working at an Atlanta mall and married him after a whirlwind courtship - "a stupid courtship. We were wild children and not interested in living the way we should have," said Ms. Bates, who grew up in Thomson, a minister's daughter.

By the time she was 30, she was getting a divorce and facing financial problems. She knew that only God could fix the mess she had made out of her life, she said. "I gave my life totally back to the Lord."

After the divorce, she met Greg Bates, a man who always seemed to have a smile on his face - he seldom got upset about anything, she recalled. "He had a very strong personal relationship with the Lord."

They wed in December 1991. A few months later, he was diagnosed with non-Hodgkin's lymphoma.

When the singer went into full-time concert ministry in 1993, he sometimes joined her on the road. He was her driver, her sound-man, and even shared his testimony on stage.

"He always said 'I don't want to die, but if I do I know where I am going. I just want what will give the Lord the most glory,"' she recalled.

On days he felt too sick to drive, she drove. "We were great friends, and we were more and more in love all the time," she said.

In the late summer of 1998, she performed in Utah and Oklahoma before heading to North Carolina to wind up a tour. Illness forced them to cut the trip short and return to their home in Canton, Ga.

The last month before he died, he went in and out of the hospital five times, said Ms. Bates, a staff evangelist at First Baptist Church in Canton.

Although he gave his testimony many times in churches in the United States and the Bahamas, they never recorded it. "It was denial on my part. I didn't want to think about" losing him, she said.

Despite moments of loneliness since her husband's death three years ago, she finds encouragement through simple things, such as a word of Scripture or a friend who calls, she said. The Lord "always picks me up, but it is his timing."

For more information about the concert, call 279-6370.

Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or vanorton@augustachronicle.com.


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