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Gospel saxophonist to play free concert in Covington

With her latest album "Breath of Life" spending weeks at the top of the Christian Instrumental and Contemporary Jazz charts earlier this year, saxophonist Angella Christie visits Covington this weekend riding perhaps the most significant wave of her career.

But during a recent interview, she chuckled at the suggestion that the album's popularity signaled that she had "arrived."

"I feel like I've arrived over and over so many times," said Christie, who will perform a free concert on Friday on the downtown Square in Covington. "You know, you never really arrive. There are always new places, events and arenas to go to. If you feel you've arrived, you stop living. You just stop."

A Los Angeles native who has lived in the Stone Mountain area for more than two decades, Christie has spent her entire professional life sharing her faith through her saxophone. And while there are still career steps she seeks to climb, she's gratified both personally and professionally.

"Everything is moving in the right direction," she said. "I'm satisfied all the way with my ministry and my career. I'm moving from one level to the next level - it's always progressing and I greatly appreciate it."

The daughter of missionaries, Christie's first saxophone performances took place in a church setting.

"My mother loved the sax," said Christie, who began her reed work at the age of 14. "I developed my skills and abilities in the Pentecostal church, where there's no limit on the instrumentation used. I was exposed to that as a child and the saxophone became my voice.

"My interest was always gospel music and I didn't think it had limits. To me, music is music and you play the music that people enjoy. And instrumental music transcends a lot of things. Everybody can enjoy instrumental gospel music. If you're excellent at anything, it can cause the world to stop and take a listen, or stop and take a look."

Christie is a gospel musician first, but she's also a jazz player, which means she's well versed in the art of improvisation.

"Improvisation is where the jazz comes in," said Christie, who has released three other albums - "Love and Learn" (1996), "Eternity" (1996) and "Hymn & I" (1998). "When you hear improvisation, you automatically think jazz. But there's plenty of improvisation in the church, too."

"Breath of Life" contains a variety of styles, but Christie's uplifting message remains the same.

"I love this project because it's so well-rounded," she said of her latest album. "There's some mainstream rock, some rhythm and blues and some traditional gospel, with what I call 'sermonic solos.' You can jam and worship to it."

Christie came to the attention of the Arts Association in Newton County when she performed as part of the local "Walk by Faith" event held earlier this year in Covington. She said that while her local concert - which will feature her four-piece band with several background vocalists - will be a spiritual experience, it won't be hymn-like in execution.

"It's in-your-face music," she said. "There will be a few ballads, but it's going to get intense. Every musician in the band is phenomenal on their instruments and we have fun playing together - there's a real synergy there, which is exactly what makes live performances fantastic and fun."