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‘Making music to the glory of God’
Renowned local music director leads Saint Cecilia Singers at Christmas show
Nancy Smith
Nancy Smith, a longtime musician whose love of music goes back to age 5, started the Saint Cecilia Singers Women’s Choir back in 2013. The group will perform Dec. 15 at the Cumming Playhouse. - photo by Bradley Wiseman

Nancy Smith believes in gifts from God.

She feels these talents we have — the things which come to us so easy and natural — are each and every one manifestations of a divine offering.

“Music was mine,” Smith says with a smile. 

On a recent morning she sits at a piano bench at Good Shepherd Catholic Church — arm draped affectionately over the 88-key instrument — as she talks about an upcoming Christmas show at the Cumming Playhouse where her group, the Saint Cecilia Singers Women’s Choir, will soon perform.

Nancy Smith
- photo by Bradley Wiseman
In addition to being director of music and liturgy at the local Catholic church, Smith leads the 25-voice women’s choir, which sings masses many times throughout the year. They will perform Dec. 15 during the second half of the Christmas Classics 2017 program.

Named for Saint Cecilia, the patroness of musicians, the group of women is made of singers ages 20 to 85. They include women hailing from Cumming, Big Canoe, Gainesville, Dawsonville and Dahlonega.

The Saint Cecilia Singers Women’s Choir is among many local musical projects undertaken by Smith, who started the group in 2013.

“Anybody is welcome to join us,” Smith said of her vocalists. “We do a lot of molding and shaping with the music.”

Smith started playing piano at the age of 5. Her academic history is one of prestige that includes studies at the College of William & Mary, Juilliard, St. Thomas Church, Bowling Green University and the University of South Alabama. 

She also studied liturgics and choral music at Union Seminary and has “enjoyed full-time church positions” for more than 30 years.

She loves it.

“What is not to love about the opportunity of getting everyone, from small children to senior citizens, to engage in the art of singing and learning about all genres of music?” Smith said, rhetorically.

When asked about her group’s upcoming Christmas show and the appeal of holiday music, Smith said it’s “memories of childhood Christmas” that keep folks coming back for those reliable Yuletide tunes.

“Christmas music especially has the power to stir up remembered precious times at holidays,” Smith said.

During the Dec. 15 show, her singers will perform traditional carols, as well as newer music.

“When they begin, they’ll sound like angels,” Smith said. “Then, all of a sudden, halfway through the program they’re going to rip those halos off and sing some fun, secular Christmas stuff.”

This includes songs like “Twelve Days of Regifted Christmas,” “Hot Chocolate” and “Shop Til you Drop.”

Though the Saint Cecilia Singers Women’s Choir perform often at the church and around the community, this will be the first time they’ve appeared at the Cumming Playhouse.

“I’m really excited that our St. Cecelia singers get to be at the [Cumming] Playhouse,” Smith said. “We’re getting a chance to sing some of our favorite sacred carols, some new carols and then the really fun, secular stuff you hear when you go in the stores.”

Her favorite contemporary carol? “The Hands that First Held Mary’s Child.” It’s included in the Dec. 15 lineup.

Tickets are $20 for the show, which begins at 8 p.m. 

On the Cumming Playhouse website, the Christmas Classics show is billed as “truly a building block in the foundation” of the local venue. This year’s is the 14th annual presentation.

“Each year’s show is new and different, spotlighting accomplished local talent,” according to the website. 

The Saint Cecilia singers are a “pivotal part of this season’s presentation.”

Smith is thankful “to share our wonderful singers with the community.”

She hopes to continue her work with the group as well as all other musical endeavors of the job.

“I can’t imagine doing anything else,” she said. “When you get to come to work every day and you get to make music to the glory of God, what is more fun than that?”

View the December issue of 400 The Life here