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Two-time previous winner Clarice Jones to perform gospel classic 'Where Could I Go But to the Lord?'

Three days a week, Oak Grove resident Clarice Jones spends four hours undergoing dialysis. It is painful and debilitating, so her goal each week is to survive. What keeps her going is her faith and playing gospel music on the piano in her living room.

"As long as I can keep playing, I can keep going," she said.

Jones will share her vocal stylings as one of 15 semifinalists in the Clackamas County Fair Talent Search Competition at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15, on the Grove Stage. The finals will take place at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17.

PMG PHOTO: ELLEN SPITALERI - Clarice Jones rehearses for her upcoming performance in the Clackamas County Fair's Talent Search Competition. She will sing at 7 p.m. on Aug. 15.  Jones will sing a classic African American spiritual "Where Could I Go But to the Lord?"

This year, for the first time, competitors can perform any kind of talent, not just vocals.

Jones has been an actress and singer all her life, appearing in "Godspell" on Broadway and was in "Jesus Christ Superstar" in California. She has been a backup singer for B.B. King and Van Morrison, and opened for Lou Rawls in Las Vegas.

But it's gospel music that inspires her.

"It moves people; that's what it sets out to do," she said. "Mahalia Jackson could sing a song, and whether you want to be moved or not, you are."

Jones is pleased to be a semifinalist at the fair, noting that this will be her third time competing; she won the last two times she performed. She also noted that she often sings with Rae Gordon at 2 p.m. on the first Sunday of the month at the Trail's End Saloon, 1320 Main St., Oregon City, and also sings gospel music at churches in the metro area.

Jones has been a diabetic for 18 years, has been on the waiting list for a kidney at Oregon Health & Science University for four years, and on dialysis for four years. Her mother was on dialysis for five years before dying from kidney failure related to diabetes. One of her nine sisters also is on dialysis, Jones said.

Medical transport picks her up at 4 a.m. on Monday, Wednesday and Friday and returns her to her apartment at 10:30 a.m. At the facility, technicians "take all the blood out of my body, wash it and put it back in," Jones said.

It is an invasive and painful process, but she is grateful for the caring and compassionate nurses. Her music sets her up for dialysis, Jones said.

"I have to be in a certain state of mind to survive; I have to celebrate being on dialysis," she said.

Her children, grandchildren and great-grandchild also help her survive the rigors of treatment. Recently, seven of her sisters came to visit, and they all went to dialysis with her.

"It was such a beautiful thing," Jones said.

Head to the fair

What: Clackamas County

Fair and Rodeo

When: Tuesday-Saturday,

Aug. 13-17

Where: Clackamas County Fairgrounds, 694 N.E. Fourth Ave., Canby

More: To see a complete schedule of events, visit clackamas.us/fair#fairinformation

Competition: The semifinals of the Talent Search Competition take place at 7 p.m. Thursday, Aug. 15; finals are at 7 p.m. Saturday, Aug. 17, on the Grove Stage.


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