The Sugar Hill Choir of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, established in September 2005, is a service oriented musical organization with 70-plus volunteer musicians from throughout northern Georgia. With some traveling nearly three hours roundtrip, choir members meet nearly every week to learn and perfect a variety of music including sacred, spiritual, patriotic, folk and Broadway. The choir provides free public concerts to build musical bridges into the community to promote goodwill and understanding. Nominated in the Atlanta Journal-Constitution as one of the best church choirs in Gwinnett, the Sugar Hill Choir has participated in a variety of events and brings a high level of professionalism and energy to each performance. Past events include participation in Atlanta’s Festival of Trees, Lighting of Gainesville, Sugar Hill Tree Lighting, Gainesville’s Multi-Cultural Concert, City of Norcross’ July Patriotic Celebration, Suwanee Memorial Weekend Event, Lilburn’s Veteran Day’s Celebration and Sugar Hill’s Fall Festival. They also have been invited to perform with several churches in the metro area as well as receiving invitations to participate in international concerts abroad.
In April 2006, the choir formed a partnership with the 50-plus accomplished musicians of the Gwinnett Community Band, to perform together each spring. In addition, the band and choir have performed jointly at several events around Northern Georgia including the City of Norcross’ July Patriotic event, City of Lilburn’s Veteran Day’s Celebration and the Gwinnett Daily Post’s Suwanee Memorial Day Concert. Established in 1984, the band’s strong reputation includes being named one of the top five bands in the United States. The two groups perform in even years with the next one being in Spring of 2020.
Pamela Gates, Director Extraordinaire
Pamela has been a choir director for more than 40 years and the director of the Sugar Hill Choir of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints since its inception. Musically trained as an opera singer, Pamela has performed in Germany as well as several opera companies in the United States. She was recognized by the Seattle opera with the Grane Award -- given to aspiring Wagnerian sopranos. In addition, Pamela also was a top 15 finalist in the Western Region Metropolitan Opera auditions and a winner of the Southern California National Teachers of Singing auditions. She has given extensive recitals and has performed as a soloist with symphony orchestras. Pamela has been a resident of Gwinnett County for decades. She and her husband, Jim, have two children and six grandchildren and currently live in Buford.
Jim Carter, Co-Director
Jim has more than 25 years of experience in directing choirs including being involved with the Sugar Hill Choir of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for nearly a decade as co-director. He has taught numerous group and private organ and piano students. Jim graduated with a double-major in Elementary Education and Organ Performance and Pedagogy from Brigham Young University, where he played the bassoon in the BYU Philharmonic and Chamber orchestras. He also received his MEd in Educational Leadership from Mercer University. An assistant principal at Berkeley Lake Elementary in Duluth, Jim and his wife, Rebecca, have six children and live in Gainesville.
Michelle Whetten, Accompanist
One of three accompanists for the Sugar Hill Choir of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, Michelle is a native of Salt Lake City, Utah, and studied music at the University of Utah. She has more than 45 years of experience of accompanying school and church choirs that dates back to the 9th grade. Michelle has been sought after as an accompanist by vocalists, instrumental performers and choir directors seeking to establish the right balance between the supporting piano and the performing musician. A resident of Suwanee, Michelle and her husband, Curtis, have three children.
Eric Kristjanson, Accompanist
Eric has been playing the piano and organ for more than 40 years. At the young age of 12, he began serving as his congregation’s organist. Eric toured from coast-to-coast in the United States while performing with college choirs. A piano teacher for 25 years, Eric’s unique talents enable him to adapt to several styles including spiritual, jazz and gospel music. A resident of Lawrenceville, Eric is married with four children and nine grandchildren.