As a kid who grew up in rural south Mississippi, I spent my earliest years serving as the pianist for my church. I played by ear from the time I was four years old, and most of the music I was exposed to were the hymns I heard at our worship services each Sunday. At Edna Baptist Church,apparently most of the preachers called to serve there also brought along with them a wife who usually became the church pianist. This must have been a big selling point for the pastor search committees , considering there was no one in th community who played the piano, well enough to carry worship services , not to mention funerals,weddings revivals or whatever other special occasions for which the church pianist might be expected to supply music.
When I turned seven , our preacher, along with his wife pianist left Edna Church for some other Congregationalist the only person in our community who knew all the songs we sang and could actually play them on the piano, I became our new church pianist. This was a position I held until I was in the tenth grade, when I was hired by Cedar Grove Baptist Church , north of our town Columbia, where I served as the pianist through my last two years of high school.
When I went to college, I became the organist for yet another church in the town where I was in school. But,when I graduated,and found myself moving to New York City,my life and careers as a church musician suddenly came to an end. I had spent seventeen years of my life playing for church , and I must say , this sudden absence was shocking and very difficult for me to manage. My spiritual life had been centered around my work in whatever church I served.
For the next twenty-five years, I rarely had the opportunity to play for a worship service of any kind. I did play the occasional offertory or some special number whenever I would visit my folks back in Mississippi , but I don't recall playing a complete church service. All those years in New York, the only time I remember playing in a church was for the annual cabaret benefit performances for St.Lukes Lutheran Church W.46th St.
Four years ago, I was hired to play rock and roll music in a production of "We will rock you" at the Paris Casino in Las Vegas. One evening I casually mentioned to a colleague in passing as we were leaving the bandstand after a show that I would like to look into the possibility of playing for a church again someday. He said that his church was looking for a new-keyboard player and that he'd be happy to pass along my name and phone number to the music director. He did , and the next Sunday, I found myself playing for worship service again, at Faith Community Lutheran Church in Las Vegas!
Now I find myself still a pianist and key- board player at Faith Community.Through my time here I've found myself intrigued by Lutheran hymns,Lutheran people, and I have fallen deeply in love with what I've discovered in the music, and maybe even because of these people. I asked for help in compiling a list of favorite hymns that I might offer in a recording that might resonate for these amazing people who have served me in my own quest to rediscover the Holy Spirit that drew me into such musical service when I was a little country boy.
In a sense,this collection has become a tribute to the Unseen Presence at work in all our lives that exist all around us, inside us when we can not see our next step. Our FAITH offers us a most divine assurance, inspiring us to carry on...