Free Spirit Celebrates 20 Years of Praise and Worship

Free Spirit Celebrates 20 Years of Praise and Worship

Free Spirit, a 12-member contemporary Christian vocal ensemble at the University of Mount Olive, recently celebrated its 20th anniversary with a concert held in the Hazel Waters Kornegay Assembly Hall.  The group was established in 1996 by Dr. Alan Armstrong, professor of music at University of Mount Olive and director of the group.

The anniversary concert featured hymn, spiritual, and gospel arrangements, several of them a cappella.  The group’s performance of Tom Fettke’s arrangement of “All That Thrills My Soul” was an audience favorite, as was “Build on the Rock” by David T. Clydesdale. The latter was part of the ensemble’s “Sermon in Song,” a collection of pieces with a common theme.  This year’s theme was “Jesus the Rock.”  The concert ended with “Peace in the Midst of the Storm” featuring senior member Cierra Reid.

Armstrong discovered Reid in 2012 at a county-wide singing contest. “I knew from the moment I heard her singing, that Cierra was very special,” Dr. Armstrong reminisced. “She not only has a beautiful instrument, but she knows how to caress a musical phrase and add that special ingredient that comes from her heart.”  Dr. Armstrong added, “Cierra is one of many fine singers I’ve been blessed to have in Free Spirit over the years.”

Since the group’s inception, it has been the intent of Armstrong to provide quality music with a message.  “I don’t believe in singing Christian music just for the sake of performing it,” he said.  “I believe when we sing the Gospel it has eternal ramifications.  I also believe the Holy Spirit can best do His work through the lyrics of a song.”

Free Spirit has had a busy 2015-2016 school year, singing in various churches throughout Eastern North Carolina, the “Rose” banquet at the Wayne Center, and for a number of middle and high school groups both on and off campus.

“Next year I will be blessed with a number of returning students, and we are hoping to have a real big celebration for the 21st anniversary with an alumni dinner and alumni participation in the concert,” Armstrong concluded.

Churches, schools, and civic organizations interested in booking Free Spirit for a concert during the 2016-17 school year can contact Dr. Armstrong at

The University of Mount Olive is a private institution rooted in the liberal arts tradition with defining Christian values. The University, sponsored by the Convention of Original Free Will Baptists, has locations in Mount Olive, New Bern, Wilmington, Seymour Johnson Air Force Base, Research Triangle Park, Washington, Jacksonville, and in Smithfield at Johnston Community College.  For more information, visit

(L-R) Front:   Sheniqwa Smith, Cierra Reid, Micah Lee, Hannah Lee, Ivy Kelly, Morgan Sullivan, and Sarah Ham.  Back:  Tyler Dilley, Trevor Knight, Jacob Cottle, Jonathan Smith, and Irvin Braddy.