Time to sing their praises

Published 12:00 am Monday, December 2, 2013

EAST SPENCER — After decades of honoring people at funerals, anniversaries and other special events, the Foxx Sisters — six singing siblings from East Spencer — will become the guests of honor when the microphones turn Dec. 14.
The community will pay tribute to the sisters, who have been singing together since the late 1960s. They do not charge for their performances, which have been known to bring people to tears, and can’t remember ever turning down a request to sing at an event, even if they could muster only a duet.
The six sisters will be in full voice at 3 p.m. Dec. 14 at Southern City Tabernacle AME Zion Church, 940 S. Long St., when they open the event, then take a seat to be entertained by area choirs and lauded by community leaders.
“The Foxx Sisters have been in the community singing and outside the community traveling to various states for weddings, funerals, anniversaries and church programs for years,” said Kimberly Kelsey, a family friend who is organizing the tribute. “Finally, it’s their time.”
Deloris Foxx, Sharron Foxx, Jackie Hillian, Vicky Foxx, Valerie Foxx and Tina Wallace range in ages from 46 to 63.
There is a 10-year gap between the two youngest sisters, which is filled with brothers. There were 11 Foxx siblings in all, raised by Essie Mae Foxx and the late Howard Foxx Sr., who passed away in 1997.
The oldest sister, Doris, died in 1966. But her legacy lives on in the ensemble that she inspired.
“She was the sister who really allowed us to realize that we had a gift,” said Deloris, who often speaks for the group. “She would have us singing and performing in talent shows, and that’s when we realized we could sing in harmony.”
After Doris passed away, the sisters were organized into a choir by the late Pastor Clarence Carr, who created the youth choir at Southern City Tabernacle. Carr went on to become a bishop in the AME Zion church.
Maintaining their ensemble and meeting the many requests for performances over the years has been difficult, Deloris said. Funerals are often held during the day, and their weekends quickly filled up with obligations to sing at special events.
“We have sacrificed a lot,” she said. “Sometimes we could only send two or three or four, but I can’t think of a time we were asked and were not able to be there.”
The sisters view their talent as a gift from God, given to them through their oldest sister Doris.
“She allowed us to realize the gift that we have,” Deloris said.
The Foxx brothers used to sing as well, but then came football and other interests. The sisters, however, never turned their attention to other pursuits.
“When we were growing up, we went every weekend to sing,” Deloris said. “Where a lot of teens like to party, we spent our time singing.”
Their most distant performance was a concert they performed in New Haven, Conn. at the request of a relative living there. The family chartered a bus for the journey.
Sharron does most of the lead singing and is the only sister with professional training. She has performed on stage at the Meroney with Piedmont Players Theatre.
Jackie, the shyest sister, made her solo debut last week at Southern City and received a standing ovation.
Longtime accompanist Ernestine Ingram will accompany the Foxx Sisters when they perform Dec. 14. The event is free and open to the public.
Contact Emily Ford at 704-797-4264.