Jonathan King is one of 57 local gospel singers headed to France next month as part of the French-American Gospel Exchange, and on Sunday, they said "Bon Voyage" to America with a concert at the Mount Zion Baptist Church in Staunton.
"Today is a benefit concert, with a multi-fold purpose," explained the Gospel Exchange's organizer, Louisa Dixon. "To showcase our talent, for people to enjoy a nice afternoon of gospel music, but also to raise some funds to help us go."
The group leaves July 21. They'll be staying in a small town in eastern France near the Swiss border.
Two choirs and several soloists will be making the trip. They've been preparing for the last six months, but King says there are still plenty of details to worry about.
"Do we have everything together? Have we practiced enough? Do we know the songs?" he listed. "Do we have our luggage? Do we have our passports? That's one of the big things."
"We've gotten together, had some mini-French lessons, getting all the details tended to," said Dixon, a Staunton native who now lives in France. "But we're moving along, on schedule."
"There are a lot of people who've never been on a train. There are people who have never been on a plane, and on top of that, there are people who've never had a passport," added show producer Larry Vickers, who also lived in France for 20 years.
"So all in all, it's a real cultural experience, and it's a wonderful thing."