Sonshine will add performance for 15th year

The Sonshine Singers will celebrate 15 years of praising God with three performances this year.

The group’s annual March Ministry will be held at First United Methodist Church, instead of at Iowa Central Community College.

“That is a huge deal,” said Director Armona Redenius of the milestone. “That is one of reasons we’re back at First United Methodist Church. We started our ministry 15 years ago in a church, at that time it was First Presbyterian Church.”

At Christmas the group gave two performances instead of one.

“Thursday night was very popular night for our Christmas,” Redenius said. “A lot of people work on weekends, and this accommodates their schedule.”

One thing that has stayed the same through the years is the group’s pianist.

“Sue Feltman has been with us every year. She is an extremely gifted lady and we love having her,” said Redenius.

Feltman was the organist and accompanist at First Presbyterian Church at that time, and also taught high school vocal music at St. Edmond.

“Armona just approached me and said I’m thinking about putting together this group, would you be interested in playing?” Feltman said.

The group was pretty big even in its first year, she said, and the audience grew as word spread.

“It became evident we would need a larger venue to sing in,” she said.

Feltman moved away from Fort Dodge in 2007, but kept playing for the group. Every week during rehearsal season, she commutes from Cedar Falls.

“Not for the December ministry, but I’ve been coming back for the March and the summer ones that they do,” Feltman said. “Partly because Armona wanted me to, and partly because we lived in Fort Dodge for 17 years, so I had so many friendships there that I hated to just leave altogether.

“This was nice way once or twice a year to get to still see people.”

Feltman is now the director of music at Cedar Heights Presbyterian Church, and plays for area high schools and for University of Northern Iowa students taking voice lessons.

Feltman said one of her favorites from this year is “10,000 Reasons (Bless the Lord).”

“That’s just a favorite song on the radio right now,” she said. “It changes too. At the beginning of rehearsals in January, a certain song may not stand out to me at all, but as we rehearse and work it, by March it might be my favorite.”

As usual, Redenius said she couldn’t pick a favorite.

“I say this every year probably, but the March ministry this year seems to be the type that will be so pleasing to so many different people,” she said. “We have full-bore gospel, toe tapping stuff, with ‘Walking with Jesus.’ It is right out of the Gaither playbook. It goes from there to very patriotic numbers, in ‘God Bless America.’

“We end the first half with ‘How Great Thou Art,’ which is a lot of people’s favorite hymn. This rendition of it is just wonderful.”

The choir will also sing contemporary hits like “Revelation Song,” a big-band flavored rendition of “Go Tell it on the Mountain,” and a piece called “Wake Up, Church.”

“It’s more of a humorous one, how we kind of sit back on our laurels, and all of a sudden we get a shocker like that song to say, ‘Come on, let’s get working for God’s kingdom,'” Redenius said. “The brass are having a blast on that number.”