CARTHAGE — The Heavensbound Gospel singing group will be “spreading the love of Jesus” at the Carthage Farmers Market this Friday.
The group’s leader, Robert C. Sly, has been performing since he was a child of about 8 learning to sing and play guitar by ear from his father. His grandfather was also a musician, playing the fiddle.
As a boy, the Black River native would participate in “singspirations” with the Baptist and Methodist churches and others in the village.
The senior Mr. Sly was a construction worker who traveled around performing country music and later gospel with his son, billing themselves as the Singing Slys.
The younger Mr. Sly sang in a quartet when he attended Brockport Bible College in Canada. He also attended the Practical Bible Institute in Binghamton. Mr. Sly went on to be the pastor at the Holiness Church in Watertown during the 1970s, Church of Christ’s Disciples in Felts Mills in 1980s and, until recently, at the Baptist Church in Evans Mills.
“I believe the songs speak of the Lord and the importance of knowing him,” Mr. Sly said of why he performs Southern gospel music. “I’ve been asked to play other music but what brings reality to the world is the Lord himself.”
Now, retired, Mr. Sly has a musical ministry. For a while, he helped operate The Way Inn Christian Music Center and now travels the north country performing at farmers markets, churches, nursing homes and hospitals.
“I enjoy being there with people and going to different places,” Mr. Sly said.
Heavensbound Gospel also includes Mr. Sly’s wife, Stephanie A., on the banjo, Bruce Money on the mandolin and, occasionally, Bob Moore on the steel guitar with his wife, Lola, singing.
The group leader said Mr. Money approached him with the desire to learn to play the mandolin so he gave the beginner one of his father’s instruments to play.
Mr. Sly is a member of the American Gospel Music Association, American Society of Composers, Authors and Publishers and the Southern Gospel City and Smokey Mountain Gospel organizations.
He said he has recently recorded his “second CD of original songs the Lord has given me.”
The Carthage Farmers Market is held Fridays until Oct. 31 from 7 a.m. to 2 p.m. at the pavilion on Riverside Drive. Village law prohibits dogs within 25 feet of the farmers market pavilion.
James Gratch will return to the market Sept. 5 and 19 providing live entertainment.
The Farmers Market Committee is looking for further entertainment for the Friday market. Musicians wishing to perform are welcome to volunteer their talents. Those interested may call Ronald R. Roch at 493-0021 for more information.
For more information about the market, call the chamber of commerce at 493-3590.