Carysbrook presents Making It Local: An Afternoon of Musical Performances

By Page H. Gifford

The Fluvanna County Arts Council (FCAC) is kicking off 2023 with a show of local talent featuring two groups: Family Feud A Cappella and The Jones Family Singers. Both groups are made up of family members sharing their love of music and both were featured in FCAC’s online Christmas concert during COVID in 2021. The show will be held Jan. 22 at 3 p.m. Family Feud A Cappella was formed in 2005, featuring Dan Signor and his wife Gaye LaCasce and daughter Alexa Beal. “Friday nights were reserved for homemade pizza and harmony,” said Signor. After Beal returned home upon earning a college degree in voice, Family Feud A Cappella continued their musical journey with another friend singing bass. Music runs through their veins which  explains their long-term family commitment, even now that Beal is married with a daughter. Signor is a music teacher and chorus director, a two-time district quartet champion, and a retired singing judge through the Barbershop Harmony Society. He continues to teach a cappella. LaCasce is a retired fundraiser who was also a music teacher and piano instructor and in her youth sang in nightspots while wielding a guitar. The family has sung throughout the U.S. and Canada. Once they moved to Charlottesville in 2019, they continued to entertain with their unique a cappella style but, after COVID disrupted their plans, they decided to try something new in their “pandemic bubble.” They redefined themselves as a trio. This is unusual since most a cappella groups are quartets or larger and there are no arrangements for trios. This led to the family arranging their music using their vast experience as individuals and singing different styles with various ensembles. The other group sharing the stage is The Jones Family Singers, formed over 50 years ago.  Carolyn Jones, along with her siblings, started singing at an early age. They would often accompany their late father, the Reverend Maynard R. Jones, and mother, Sister Nannie Jones, to different singing engagements and churches. The family originally included two sisters and three brothers and at this time the youngest sibling wasn’t born. “That made us The 5 Angels,” said Carolyn Jones. After the birth of their youngest sister, they were known as The Jones Family Singers. The group included the Rev. Jones and his wife, Nannie; children Patricia, Donald, Michael, Ronnie, Carolyn and the one her parents nicknamed “No More” Ericka. As they grew older Jerome Wheeler came on to assist with singing and playing the drums. Later,Carolyn’s husband, Deacon Chris Walker joined along with his sister, Francesca Walker, the group’s pianist, and Patricia’s husband Keith Ayers. Gospel music has been a spiritual staple of the Black community and has been solidified into the Black culture in America. The church had been a centerpiece of strength and faith and that same strength is demonstrated in the voices of people like the Jones family. “I would say first and foremost we love that we minister to people, and we honor God by song. We love that it touches them and also how it makes us feel as we sing and when we see people’s faces light up,” said Carolyn Jones. “Daddy used to say ‘Hallelujah, what a song, it will keep you out of wrong, and will start the joy bells moving in your soul, it will help you through the night, it will make your burdens so light if you would only sing a song while walking alone’.” She said they are looking forward to being back at Carysbrook singing since they don’t often get an opportunity to sing this close to home. Aside from performing in person, they have also produced three CDs. “We try to bless others with our gift and we love singing with each other because we are family,” she said. “We are often touched and encouraged by the different age groups that know the songs we sing. One special moment was hearing a five-year-old tell us that he listens to one of our CDs with his nana. Also hearing him sing the song was even sweeter.” Music is always powerful in all its forms and when voices are added, they are the tools that make the music and the lyrics have more meaning. For tickets visit events. 

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