Music veterans feted
To sing the praises of the unsung, Union Baptist Church held its Key Legends and Hall of Fame Celebration Friday evening, honoring church organists and piano players who have left their marks on the local church scene.
The church rolled out the red carpet – literally – for the musicians, who marched into the packed sanctuary one-by-one to take their seats of honor.
Ten honorees were inducted into Union’s new Hall of Fame. Dozens of others were recognized as Key Legends. The ceremony was part of Union’s long running First Friday Summer Series, which over the years has featured nationally-renowned recording artists and preaching legends.
“Tonight is our way to thank them for their labor that they’ve given down throughout the years, and it’s a way to encourage them and prepare them for what God’s gifted them to do,” Union Pastor Dr. Sir Walter Mack Jr. said of the honorees.
The honorees are usually the ones creating the music, but Friday, they were in the audience as other singers and musicians performed in their honor. There were some exceptions. Hall of Fame honoree Walteria Mack Spaulding, Union’s music director, tickled the ivories for a performance she led. Fellow Hall of Famer Apostle Sylvester Johnson, pastor of Macedonia Worship Center, also played the organ and sang along with members of his church.
Johnson began playing the organ at age 16. He was Macedonia’s music minister when his father pastored the church. After his father passed away, he stepped behind the pulpit.
Today, Macedonia has a bounty of musical talent, so Johnson doesn’t get the opportunity to sit behind the organ as much. He called his performance a rare treat.
Church musicians deserve praise, Johnson said, because music has always been an important part of the church.
“It’s definitely a mainstay of church praise and worship,” he said.
Dr. Marion Pete Thomas’ musical career spans nearly half a century and includes teaching music, numerous awards and serving as assistant organist for Winston-Salem State University’s James A. Gray Lecture Series. Thomas, the musical minister at both Bethlehem Baptist Church and First Baptist Church on Highland, said he was honored to be inducted into the Hall.
“It’s very exciting just to know that people would think of you enough to want to honor you and to be surrounded by musicians and my family is just a treat,” he said.
Elder Moses Tyson Jr., a nationally-known gospel singer and musician, was the guest performer. He was introduced by Derrick Webster, music minister at Oak Ridge’s First Baptist Church.
“All of these musicians here can make an organ talk, just like these brothers over here and sisters tonight,” Webster said, referring to the honored musicians. “But let me tell you something, Moses, he’s going to make the organ speak in tongues.”
And Tyson did just that, dazzling the audience with just his sound test before bringing down the house with several musical numbers. But before Tyson let his magic fingers go to work, he gave a brief sermon.
The son of a Vallejo, Calif. pastor, Tyson talked about how he began playing the organ at 12. He said it’s best to seek God, not fame, and he credits that focus for a successful career. Though he’s at a point where other people will carry his bags at airports, Tyson said if he’s with a pastor, he’ll still carry the pastor’s bags.
“He that is the greatest among you isn’t the most talented of all, he doesn’t have a title, he’s a servant of all,” he said.
Other Hall of Famers who were honored for their long, influential musical careers at numerous churches were David L. Allen Sr., Aldine Rucker, Jimmy Lowery, Bishop Bennie Plowden, Adele Scott-Norton, Rudolph Sullivan and Eugene Bess.
The Key Legends who attended the service or sent a representative were James Anderson, Rudolph Boone, Rev. Christopher Brinson, Craig Caesar, Katherine Rosemary Chavis, Rev. Serenus Churn Jr., Michael Clinton, Janet Clyburn-Campbell, Chris Coleman, Dr. Rodney Coleman, Min. DeShaye Cuthrell, Shirley Damon, Cynthia Davis, Iris Daye, Kevin Douthit, Min. Christopher Farabee, Anthony Farmer, Carlos Fowler, Rev. Kevin Gibson, Min. Mischeal Goldsmith, Jackie Gray, Dale Hairston, Debra Hale, Melinda Hash, George Hauser, Julie Hunter, Millie Fowler Jefferson, Larry Jenkins, Cory Jones, Emory Jones, Rochelle Joyner, Terry Kelly, Lem Keniel, Dollye Mack, Meredith McCray-Reid, Thaddeus McCollum, Peggy McCullough, Brenda Nance, Aaron Orr, Rev. George Pass, Robert Mack Pitts III, Clarence Reynolds, Logan Reynolds, Nelson Roberts, Rev. Konnie Robinson, Min. Kevin Scott, Washington Shipps, John Thomas, Min. Anthony Tucker, Towanna VanEaton, Derrick Webster, Dr. Donna Wiggins, Billie J. Williams and Bishop Stephen Williams.