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 round trip, choir members meet weekly during the concert season to learn and perfect a variety of music including sacred, spiritual, classical, 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. The choir has also been invited to perform with several churches in the metro area in addition to receiving invitations to participate in international concerts abroad.
In April 2006, the choir formed a partnership with the accomplished musicians of the Gwinnett Community Band, to perform together as part of the spring concerts. 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 the spring choir concerts every other year.
Pamela Gates, Founder
Pamela has been a choir director for more than 40 years and was the founding director of the Sugar Hill Choir of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. Musically trained as an opera singer, Pamela has performed in Germany as well as with 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 and her husband, Jim, were residents of Gwinnett County for decades and are now living out of state to be closer to family.
Jim Carter, Director
Jim has more than 25 years of experience in directing choirs and has been involved with the Sugar Hill Choir of The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints for over a decade in various roles including associate director, organist, and chorister (tenor and bass). He has taught numerous group and private organ and piano students and serves as organist in his local congregation. Jim graduated with a double-major in Elementary Education and in Organ Performance and Pedagogy from Brigham Young University, where he also played the bassoon in the Philharmonic and Chamber orchestras. He 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 two accompanists for the choir, 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 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.
Lauren Taylor, Accompanist
Lauren is a native of Lawrenceville, Georgia. She has been playing the piano for 20 years and has over 14 years of experience as a choir accompanist. In addition to the piano, Lauren plays the violin. Prior to college she performed in various ensembles, including the Mountain View High School Philharmonic Orchestra, the Gwinnett Symphony Orchestra, and the Sugar Hill Choir as a soprano. Lauren attended the University of Georgia, where she continued performing in other ensembles, including the Women's Glee Club and the Philharmonia Orchestra. She received a Bachelor's Degree in Music Education from UGA and is pursuing a Master's Degree in Music Education. Lauren resides in Johns Creek, Georgia, and teaches orchestra at Pace Academy.