Back in the 1960s, Ben Hamar scored a hit record with “Sugar and Spice,” a cover of a Searchers song recorded with his group The Grasshoppers. But now Hamar sings only for the Lord and at the side of his wife Phoebe at the Brookridge Gospel Jubilee; a musical show performed on the third Monday of each month at the Brookridge Clubhouse, in the Brooksville community of Brookridge. Brookridge community is located at 7300 Brookridge Central Boulevard in Brooksville. The next Gospel Jubilee will be celebrated at 6 pm on May 16 and it is free and open to the public.
“This is a two-hour concert of all gospel music. It may be jazzy, country, pop or messianic. But it’s all gospel,” said Phoebe Hamar, a vocalist who has co-staged these performances with her singer/guitarist husband for five years. She identifies her husband Ben, a native of the Netherlands, as a lifelong music enthusiast. He was a lead guitarist and a featured vocalist for The Grasshoppers. The Grasshoppers’ version of “Sugar and Spice” charted a no. #1 place in 1968 on Minnesota radio stations KDWB and WDGY. The group was named “Best New Band Of The Year” at the Connie Awards, broadcast on WCCO TV on May 27,1968. “Now God has led him to sing only the gospel. We sing his original songs at the Gospel Jubilee,” shared Phoebe.
Phoebe said that she discovered her own musical talent during her courtship with Ben. “He asked me if I could sing while we were dating. At the time, I said no,” she said. Adding with a chuckle, “I rely on the Lord to make my voice sound good.”
Aside from their live performances, which also feature stints from special guest performers who share their own vocal and instrumental talents, the Hamars can be seen and heard on their YouTube channel.
Ben Hamar’s creativity also extends from the stage to the easel, as he is a painter of oil and acrylic portraits mostly depicting beach scenes from throughout central Florida. His award-winning paintings, completed in a photorealistic style, can be seen in the YouTube video titled “Benno Hamar Photo Realist Artist” and on the Harmar’s business card, where he presents his portrait of their dog Sir Winston.
And while Phoebe Hamar encourages all in the community to “take a break” and enjoy the tunes at the Gospel Jubilee, she stresses that this presentation is about more than just music. “We don’t think of the Jubilee as a concert, as much as it is a musical ministry,” said Phoebe, who notes that she and Ben are also pastors at the Brooks and Springs church services in Brookridge, and have appeared at other churches across the area. Phoebe stated, “Gospel music brings His people together in one accord.”