Church to host benefit “singing”

Published 12:29 pm Friday, July 21, 2017



New Harmony Holiness Church is hosting a “singing” on July 29 at 6 p.m. to raise funds for funeral expenses.

Former church member Franky Dawson of Jemison died from health complications on June 13. His funeral was July 16.

“He was just a very, very hard worker, and the kind of person who’d give you the shirt off his back,” Betty Smitherman, Dawson’s sister and New Harmony church member, said.

The event will feature the Southland Gospel, local Southern Gospel and country singer Gary McKee, local singer Gary Morris and other local musicians.

“I think it’s going to be a good one,” Smitherman said of the singing.

Morris said Smitherman’s daughter, along with other relatives, will add to the evening with their own musical talents.

Smitherman and Dawson were only two of five siblings growing up.

“We was always a close-knit family,” Smitherman, who was the eldest child, said.

Smitherman said Dawson was her younger brother by four years. He was third in the line of children.

According to his obituary on the Martin Funeral Home website, Dawson was an equipment operator.

“He was just about the best mechanic you can think of,” his sister praised. “He could fix just about anything.”

“He had a green thumb, too,” she said. “He was quite the farmer.”

Dawson leaves behind three grown children and a five-year-old son.

Smitherman said her brother was well thought of in his community and at the church. Apparently he went “way back” with current pastor Teddy Chadwick, who had been a truck driver along with Dawson years ago.

Smitherman said she has been amazed at the support and love shown by the community after the passing of her brother.

“You just don’t know how many friends you have until you die,” she said, “or until your brother dies.”

Morries said he responded to Smitherman’s idea of a singing benefit for her brother’s funeral expenses with enthusiasm, offering to promote the event for a broader community response.

Morris said he often sings for benefits.

“Whenever the need arises,” he said, “I try to help people.”

He added, “I ain’t made a nickel at it, but I wouldn’t do it for a living, I don’t think.” He said he would rather use his music to impact others.

Admission to the singing is free, but donations are encouraged and will be taken during the event. Donations can also be mailed to Betty Smitherman at 1344 County Road 34, Clanton, Alabama.

Beyond a desire to cover funeral costs, Smitherman hopes to provide a fun-filled night for all who attend the singing.

“Everybody come that can!” she said. “Just come enjoy the singers and enjoy the fellowship with people.”

New Harmony Holiness Church is located at 779 County Road 34 in Clanton.