They sing from the heart and they sing with a purpose. Together, Sharon Gunter and Cindy Bell sing gospel music of faith and gratitude while telling a story of strength and survival.
In June, the two sopranos began performing together as Heavenly Expressions. Since their first show at the Southeastern Gospel Jubilee Showcase, Heavenly Expressions has created two gospel albums and a Christmas album.
The duo met during a Christmas concert in 2007 and quickly realized their voices would “blend and balance very well,” Gunter said.
They performed together during an opera soiree concert and realized their similarities didn’t end with their vocal talent. They had both been single mothers, classically trained in opera and former teachers of music who each experienced a life-altering event.
Gunter’s story is one of surviving an abusive marriage. In addition to sharing her tale with audiences, she wrote about it in the autobiography, “God Has a Plan for the Girl Next Door.”
“I had a miraculous delivery,” Gunter said. “The Lord was able to get me out before I was killed.”
Bell’s struggle dates back to 1987, when she underwent surgery to remove nodules from her vocal chords.
“[The doctor] did an outdated procedure and left me with paralyzed vocal chords,” she said. “It took me 10 years to get my voice back. I still have trouble talking ... over loud noises. But the singing voice is back.
“They told me I would never sing again, so I just figured it was time for me to give back.”
For Bell and Gunter, giving back at first meant teaching music and sharing their voices. But audiences wanted more, Bell said.
“We’ve had women come up to us afterward and say, ‘I’ve been through the same thing,’ or ‘I’m going through the same thing, can you help me out and help me get through it,’” she said. “It just kind of blossomed from there.”
In addition to music, the duo now offers a women’s ministry conference. While they’re not experts, Gunter said audiences draw inspiration from their stories and life experiences.
They recently performed four Christmas concerts and are working to bring their ministry to nonprofit groups like Heart 2 Heart and Whispering Hope.
“Especially with hard economic times, there is such a need for women to be strong,” Gunter said. “It just worked out that everything that’s been [happening] our whole lives has led up to this point of us being together and having this ministry.”
E-mail Jennifer Sami at firstname.lastname@example.org.