The label "homegrown" is a sign of quality and pride for many products. Kipper Ackerman, harpist and vocalist who founded the music ministry Sounds of Grace, thinks the same is true of music - at least in the Sumter community. So the Nov. 2 concert featuring local musicians is proudly titled Homegrown.
For several years now, Ackerman has been performing in locations such as hospitals, nursing homes, classrooms and other venues to fulfill the mission of the 501(c)3 nonprofit Sounds of Grace. That mission is "to bring peace and healing through music by placing musicians in classrooms for those with special needs," as well as in other settings, such as hospitals, where comfort is needed.
Sounds of Grace presents two benefits a year, with funds raised going toward upkeep of instruments, transportation and other essentials to enable Ackerman and other volunteer musicians to continue playing for those whose need for peace might not otherwise be met.
As she says, "When music fills the quiet, it brings a peace over the heart, delivering a message that words sometimes can't."
Thursday's concert is just the second in the Homegrown series, Ackerman said, and it fulfills two purposes: the fundraiser for Sounds of Grace as well as providing an opportunity for the musicians to entertain.
"It's also uplifting for us to play for an audience - hopefully a full house!" she said.
While the Homegrown concert begins at 7:30 p.m. in the Sumter Opera House, this year's fundraiser will feature a separate event at 6 p.m., also Thursday, Nov. 2, in the City Centre adjacent to the Opera House.
"It's a special event (for) our most supportive friends of the Sounds of Grace," Ackerman said. Featuring heavy hors d'oeuvres, beverages, live music and a silent auction, the $50 ticket price also includes admission to the Homegrown concert. Call (803) 491-5514 to purchase tickets, which can be picked up at "will call" on the evening of the event.
Items included in the silent auction include artwork by Grainger McKoy, the late Ray Davenport, Bryan DuRant, Amanda Cox, Lynn Bolen, Connie Brennan, Lyn Sherrill, Laura Cardello, Mike Bond and others.
Music for the special event will be provided by From the Morning, the duo of Kevin Jarvis and Ashley Holloman.
Guitarist and vocalist Jarvis will perform with singer Allie Nance during the Homegrown concert, which follows.
Returning performers for Homegrown include Kipper and Curt Ackerman, Hank Edens, Sounds of Grace board member Paul Frey, who will join Kipper for a duet, accompanied by Mark Burns on piano; Mark Mitchiner and Tripp Boykin, known as Hints and Allegations, who are also members of the rock band Chief Complaint. Jay Hodge and Jeff Wilson will also perform with them. Sonny Jones will perform on guitar and vocals; violinist Christi Brownlee and Michael Baier on double bass will play with Ackerman.
Jones said he finds it fulfilling to perform with this "talented group of musicians to support a 'homegrown' ministry that is of vital importance to our community."
Donny Floyd and Ackerman will "add some fun" with their numbers, accompanied by pianist Linda Beck.
Ackerman said she will also share some stories of experiences she has had with Sounds of Grace.
"Some are 'feel good,' some may bring tears," she said. "We'll try to balance that with songs."
The performers have chosen their own favorites for the concert "that bring them peace and joy," Ackerman said.
Boykin said that, besides contributing to the Sounds of Grace mission, "Performing with and alongside the truly and incredibly talented musicians is nothing short of humbling and inspiring. ... Mark and I count ourselves as blessed to be a part of the benefit concert and to share these performances with our fellow musicians and hometown. I always walk away from this experience with a little extra smile on my face and my musical heart full."
For his part, Mitchiner added that supporting the music ministry is important because "music is a great healer. I also enjoy how music shared with other performers recharges me so that I can be a deeper and more giving person."
Ackerman said the healing power of music is not just for the physically ill.
"You don't always have to be in a hospital bed to feel down or feel grief," she said. "We hope the music we play will be uplifting for the audience, as it is for us."
Tickets for Homegrown, a benefit concert for Sounds of Grace, are $25 general admission for the 7:30 p.m. Thursday, Nov. 2, concert at the Sumter Opera House, 21 N. Main St. They can be purchased at the Opera House box office, Olive Tree bookstore on Bultman Drive or online at www.SumterOperaHouse.com.
Tickets for the 6 p.m. special event in the City Centre adjacent to the Opera House are $50, which includes admission to Homegrown, can be purchased by calling (803) 491-5514.