Friday, September 28, 2012
Florence LaRue – Still Letting the ‘Son’ Shine In
The remaining original member of The 5th Dimension is still busy serving the Lord and bringing enjoyment to many
By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
LOS ANGELES, CA (ANS) -- When I took my place for the 14th Annual Media Fellowship International Praise Brunch on Saturday, September 22, 2012, in Los Angeles, California, I found myself seated next to a beautiful lady who introduced herself as Florence LaRue.
Wow. Not one to miss a fascinating interview, I turned on my recorder and asked her to tell me more about herself.
“Actually, in the first ten years of group, Marilyn McCoo and Billy Davis Jr., sang with us, but then they left. I have continued all these years with other wonderful vocalists. As a matter of fact, the other young lady in the group, Patrice Morris, is a pastor and she has her own gospel CD.”
It turned out that on Saturday, it was a reunion of sort for three of the originals from The 5th Dimension, as Billy Davis Jr., was there leading his Soldiers For the Second Coming worship group, which included his wife, Marilyn McCoo.
I did some checking on Florence and discovered that she has had a phenomenal career that has produced 14 Gold records, 6 Platinum records, 6 GRAMMY Awards, and numerous other awards. I also discovered that many a Sunday night, The 5th Dimension was brought into American living rooms on The Ed Sullivan variety show.
Originally known as The Hi-Fi’s, the group changed its name to The 5th Dimension in late 1966 and was best-known during the late 1960s and early 1970s for popularizing the hits “Up, Up and Away”, “Stoned Soul Picnic”, “Aquarius/Let the Sunshine In”, “Wedding Bell Blues”, “One Less Bell to Answer”, “(Last Night) I Didn't Get to Sleep at All”, and The Magic Garden LP.
Florence, says that the latest edition of the group is still busy and I wondered if it seemed strange to that people are still loving the group’s music after all of these years.
“It’s interesting because the baby boomers are our largest audience, although we have people in the audience from ten to ninety,” she said. “The young people come even if they don’t even know our music, but after the show they say, ‘you guys were hot’. They’re surprised that they liked their parent’s music.
“I even do a gospel song in the show and we’re very proud that we have a family-oriented show and that, when we sing our hits, they’re very close to the recording of them we use the same arrangements. I also have a solo show and a one woman show that I do, and I also I speak at churches and events. As a matter of fact, I’m going to be the keynote speaker for Bethel AME church in San Diego in October.”
“I’ve been coming and supporting Media Fellowship International for years,” she told me. “I just enjoy it and I think it’s very good to fellowship with other Christians and it gives me strength to go out into the world because the Lord put on my heart years ago to stay in the secular world.
“At one time, I had thought about just doing gospel songs, but God told me that He wanted me to be in the secular world and not just be a Christian singer. He told me clearly, ‘I want you to be a singer who is a Christian and I want you to go out and minister to people who wouldn’t come to a gospel show.”
Florence paused briefly and then added, “There are many people who aren’t ministered to because they don’t go to church or wouldn’t go to a gospel show, so someone has to be out there ‘in the world but not of the world’, as the Bible says. I’ve had people receive the Lord after a show because of singing gospel music in the show and it’s a wonderful way to minister.”
She said that sometimes Christians ask her why she is singing in Las Vegas and she says, “Well, that’s where the Lord is needed,” adding, “I’ve had people in Vegas receive the Lord.”
Florence says that sometimes secular people challenge her and ask why she is singing gospel music during a secular show, but she just smiles and continues to do it.
When did you become a believer?
“I received the Lord about when I was ten years old,” said Florence. “I was a Sunday school teacher when I was younger and I’ve always known the Lord.”
Is it hard being a Christian in show biz?
“For me, it’s not hard because I love the Lord and He has put me there,” she replied. “I suppose if your relationship with God isn’t strong, it would be hard because you have opposition. I remember back in the sixties and seventies, I had people handing me drugs on stage because they assumed that, because I was a performer, that I was using drugs.
“So in the beginning it was difficult because I was what I call a ‘closet Christian’. I didn’t want to be that preaching girl, but now I don’t care what they call me. I praise the Lord every chance I get’.
I concluded by asking Florence what advice or warning she would give to a young Christians who wanted to get into the entertainment industry.”
“Before you do anything, pray about it,” she said. “Ask the Lord where in the business you should be. Should you be in front of the camera or on stage or behind the scenes? Know your strengths know your weaknesses stay focused, know your priorities. My priorities are God, family, career.
“A lot of people get into their careers and forget about their family. That’s what’s important. I have six GRAMMY’S, fourteen gold records, but they can talk to me, hug me and I can share my life with them. I’m very proud of it, but what I’m most proud of is my relationship with God and my family that my family also knows the Lord.”
For many years now, Ms. LaRue has been an active member of The Church On The Way, in Van Nuys, California, where she especially enjoys singing in the choir, serving with the homeless ministry and missionary work. Florence LaRue is clearly a star who shines for God.
She says is grateful to God for the opportunity to speak and minister in the secular and spiritual worlds through her music, writing, speaking and acting, and for blessing her with success. She looks forward to what He has planned for her future as, to partly misquote one of the group’s hits – she wants to continue letting the “Son” shine in through her music.
Florence also revealed that her various Scripture verse is: “Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works, and glorify your Father which is in heaven.” Matthew 5:16.
And that is what this talented singer does all the time. If you would like to know more, please go to: www.florencelarue.com
I would like to thank Robin Frost for transcribing this interview.
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