Alternative for kids: Singing the Gospel

Published 12:00 am Monday, April 28, 2008

FRANKLIN—It couldn’t be a better match.

Two people concerned about gangs, violence and drugs in the area are combining ideas to help local youth while doing what they love to do.

Raymond and Letrice Felton are hoping to inspire children and give them something meaningful to do by performing gospel concerts in the area.

The couple’s group, RayTrice, is signed to gospel label Savage Music Productions Inc., owned by Michael Savage of Ahoskie, N.C. Raymond is also a promoter for the label.

RayTrice has released their first CD, “Unstoppable,” that ended a nine-month project.

“Most of the songs are original,” said Raymond, a native of Suffolk.

The couple will perform some of their songs during the citywide revival scheduled for May 4.

“We’re going to make history,” said Raymond. “We are asking for at least 100 youth to sing with us on stage. We want the choir to show diversity in our city. We want all nationalities.

“It doesn’t even matter how you sound as long as you are willing to participate.”

Raymond said that the effort is part of an idea spawned from an interest group that has been meeting in the city regarding youth.

“We are part of (the meetings of) the youth commission. This idea falls under the commission and is how Savage got involved.

“We are the first ones to put our plan into action.”

In addition, the couple said that beginning May 11, groups from Savage Productions are going to perform every other Sunday at Barrett’s Landing from 4 p.m. to 7 p.m. The gospel concerts will be free and are slated to run through June.

“If it goes well,” he said, “we will have them until September.”

Savage is also providing groups for an anti-drug, anti-violence concert at the old Johnson’s Auto Parts parking lot on South Street May 24.

“It cost about $3,500 to get all of these groups here to sing,” Raymond said. “But (Savage) doesn’t charge anything.”

Savage said he just tries to help the community, whether it be in Ahoskie or in Franklin.

“We try to give people who have been misguided by today’s music something positive to listen to,” Savage said. “We are just doing our part to strengthen the community.” Michael and his wife, Chiqutia, own the company.

The point is, according to Raymond, is that he and his wife, who have nine children, love the youth.

“We try to do things to keep the youth off the street and from making wrong choices,” he said.

Letrice said, “We don’t mind doing anything for anybody in the community or outside the area.”

They helped raise money for the burial of 21-year-old Harley Bethea, 21, who died after being shot while walking to his home on Mariner Street in August.

“We were doing volunteer work before we got into music,” she said. “We are not working for ourselves. We are working for the Lord.

“We go by his rules.”

For more information, log onto or www.soldiersagainstthedarkness.

RayTrice’s &uot;Unstoppable&uot; CD is available for $12.50 at Parker Drug in downtown Franklin. It may also be purchased at