SO MANY REASONS to REJOICE:
SACRED SONGS of PRAISE
I heard my people singing – in the glow of parlor coal stove and on summer porches sweet with lilac air, from choir loft and Sunday morning pews – and my soul was filled with their harmonies.
DATELINE, November 20, 2016; Shiloh Baptist Church, Washington, DC. On a spring evening in 1969, the Oakland High School choir, Oakland, CA, assembled for their final performance of the school year. OHS was a faux Gothic architectural monstrosity, curiously painted pale pink. Their last selection was a joyously upbeat gospel song recently released by the Edwin Hawkins singers entitled, O, Happy Day. Directing was a senior named Everett Williams Jr. Students exuberantly swayed in sync with the rhythm as their harmonious voices filled the ancient cavernous auditorium. When the song ended, the sheer energy momentarily stunned the audience before sustained, enthusiastic, and thunderous applause rocked the house. Everett’s professional and musical trajectory began to soar even higher. He would depart the Bay Area a few months later for Oberlin Conservatory of Music, Oberlin, OH, where he matriculated through and graduated from with both bachelor’s and master’s degrees.
Over the years, friends and family have implored the maestro to produce a record. Ever the diplomat, Everett agreed declining to be pushed into a premature action. When he was ready, the music in his head and heart found its way into a soul stirring and melodic offering suffused with his God-given genius, his faith, and his love of the great hymns of the church. So Many Reasons to Rejoice is Everett’s testimony and his gift to you. What he has created is an expression of his deep and abiding love of the Lord, and his gratitude for the many blessings bestowed on him. He has played his heart out in these richly orchestrated tracks. I have had the distinct privilege, and pleasure, of listening to, and watching Everett play piano for more than sixty years;
I have witnessed his growth as a self-taught organist for nearly as long. Thank you for being here today to support him in his latest act. Your presence means so very much to him and to our family. I know you’ll love every selection and you, too, will find So Many Reasons to Rejoice.
©December 13, 2016 by Theresa W. Bennett-Wilkes. I made the foregoing remarks during the formal CD launch November 20, 2016.
NOTE: So Many Reasons to Rejoice: Sacred Songs of Praise, a CD of instrumental renditions of the hymns of the church on organ and piano is available online at http://www.CDBaby.com and on Amazon.