Irontonian honored with Joy of the Lord award

Published 10:16 am Friday, December 11, 2009

When he sings, his rich baritone attracts attention from everyone in the room.

Joseph Price, of Ironton, was blessed with an amazing set of vocal chords.

Wednesday night, Price was honored by a local church for using his talent to the glory of the God he loves to sing about.

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Westwood Wesleyan Church bestowed its first-ever Joy of the Lord Award on Price during a dinner at the Golden Corral Restaurant in Russell, Ky. where Price works as a chef.

“We plan on doing this every year,” church member David Profit said. “We’re going to try to honor someone in the community who, when you walk in that place of business you see the joy of the Lord on someone’s face.”

Price, Profit said, was an easy first choice and “will be a hard act to follow. Hopefully he will inspire people in the whole Tri-State to show that joy.”

Price has been singing all his life though he admits his youthful intention was not to sing gospel.

“I’m originally from Detroit,” he said. “I started out singing Motown.”

But even in his youth, God was calling, even if the young Joseph Price didn’t know it or acknowledge it.

“Every now and then, Mom would ask me to sing in church,” he recalled. Ernestine Price was a Godly woman whose love for the Lord radiated out from her. Her children took note even if they didn’t always follow in her footsteps.

“She loved the Lord, no matter what happened,” Price recalled. “No matter what went on in life, Mom talked to the Lord.”

Growing up was tough. Joseph Price’s father could be as mean and violent as his mother could be warm and Christ-like.

Price turned to drugs and alcohol and eventually became homeless and penniless.

“I was living in a shelter,” he recalled. “My brother was with this girl and she had family in Detroit and she asked me if I wanted to go to Ironton. That was in 1994.” Price found work babysitting the woman’s children and sometimes wound up caring for as many as 11 children. Looking back, Price says now that he knew God was dealing with him.

In 1997 Price underwent hip replacement surgery and wound up sharing a hospital room with the brother of Bishop Kenneth Lisath, pastor of New Jerusalem Christian Center.

Price recalled the NBA finals were on television but he couldn’t afford to pay for the hospital’s TV service.

Bishop Lisath made a deal with Price: He would pay for one night of TV service if Price would come to church one Sunday.

“I said yes but I didn’t mean it, had no intention of going to church,” Price remembered. But a few months later, he did, just once.

“I went and I had no intention of going back,” Price said. But God had gotten ahold of him and sure enough, he went back.

“God was working on me but I didn’t recognize it,” Price said. He agreed to be baptized even though he really was resisting God. But how ever much Price was fighting to go in one direction, God was pulling him in the other. He recalled the baptismal water was cold but something seemed to be holding him in that water. After he was baptized he went to a back room and prayed.

“I said “God, I know it was you holding me in that water,” Price recalled. And he has given his life and his talent to the Lord ever since.

It was through church that Price would meet the woman who was to become his wife, Patti and got a job as a meat chef at Golden Corral,

Price became famous for singing gospel songs while working and it was this expression of his faith in Christ that earned him the respect and admiration of fellow Christians who were dismayed when Price was told to stop singing on the job.

“I always felt good when I came here and always felt better when I left,” Profit said.