I began my musical journey as a curious five-year-old who enjoyed playing on my parents’ player piano or pianola, an instrument that greatly intrigued me. I had watched both my father and my mother skillfully play this piano and I wanted to do what they did. My dad played blues and boogies and my mom sightread and played hymns. My parents recognized the potential within me and enrolled me in piano lessons at the Wurlitzer Music Store on Fourth Street. Within a few years, they had my three siblings taking lessons to learn the accordion, trumpet, and marimba. I got my first job as a church musician at the age of nine when my pastor asked me to play for the Sunday School each week and I received compensation once every quarter. My sister did not like the accordion and switched to the piano; our pastor called her at age 10 to play for the Boys’ Choir at our church in which my brothers sang. In my early Junior High School years, I began playing the trumpet in Junior Band – switching to the clarinet, arranging, and transposing music so that my siblings and I could play as an instrumental ensemble – the family band. We did recitals at churches, performed for P.T.A. meetings, and my brother (a Boy Scout in my father’s troop) played Taps for veteran funerals. My sister, the pastor’s niece (who at the age of ten, was hired to play for the B.Y.P.U. – Baptist Young Peoples Union), and I began to travel with him and his wife to the Baptist district, regional and state conventions to participate in training, singing, and playing. Those amazing years manifested valuable spiritual growth and maturity for all three of us. At the age of thirteen, I was called to one of our sister churches to play for the Youth Choir, my sister to a church in Madisonville as their organist, and our pastor’s niece took over the Boys’ Choir and eventually became the church musician after her mother transitioned into eternal rest.
I recognize that GOD always had been leading me into the music ministry. My training and experiences on a variety of keyboard, woodwind, brass, string, and percussion instruments in concert, marching, and stage bands, orchestra, school, church, and community choirs, as well as the arranging and scoring of music for vocal and instrumental ensembles – all prepared me for acceptance into the College-Conservatory of Music at the University of Cincinnati to focus on Music Education. Although I didn’t complete the requirements to receive my degree, I learned a great deal more about the science and aesthetics of music, affirming that the path that I was following was ordained by the LORD.
I was the wife of one loving man for nearly forty years, am honored to be the mother of three anointed daughters, and am graced to be the grandmother of six phenomenal grandchildren.
I am an active member of the Corinthian Baptist Church in Bond Hill where Dr. Kazava (KZ) Smith is my Senior Pastor and shepherd, and the Reverend Earl Bray, Jr. is the Assistant Pastor. Having retired after several decades of active participation with our skillful team of instrumentalists, I deem it an honor to yet serve at CBC as a standby musician when needed for special services. But I truly have several pastors even now. I grew up in both the Baptist and Methodist denominations (mother/father), still claim those congregations as my church families, worship and serve with them during the year here in our city and in the Greater Philadelphia area.
I have served as a Sunday School teacher, church musician, choir director, music department administrator, church choir member, delegate at the Gospel Music Workshop of America National Convention (GMWA), GMWA – Cincinnati Chapter choir member and musician, choir member, and musician of the GMWA – Northern Delaware Chapter, community orchestra musician (DE), former choir member and musician for the Hildaman Chorale (DE), Youth Choir musician and Interim Minister of Musician, St. Paul’s Baptist Church (PA, Dr. Wayne E. Croft, Pastor), private music teacher, contracted accompanist, volunteer entertainer at nursing homes and community centers, elementary school music tutor, school talent show coordinator and musician, braille specialist for Cincinnati Public Schools. and as a docent for CSO’s former Friday Nighters’ program. I currently am a member of the University of Cincinnati Alumni Band, and the accompanist for the Wendell E. Anderson, Sr. One-Man Show (a professional entertainer, and a member of The Hues Corporation).
In 2016, I was asked on several occasions to serve as a substitute musician for the Carmel Presbyterian Church under the pastorate of the Reverend Murphy Ashley. Under the direction of Deborah Battle Jordan, the Minister of Music, I was asked to play regularly on the fourth Sunday of each month and on some fifth Sundays. It was a phenomenal opportunity for me because I was privileged to participate at Corinthian’s 8:00 a.m. worship, play the Hammond Organ, and attend Sunday School, then come to Carmel and play the pipe organ. It was the best of both worlds!
I accepted the open position of Minister of Music this June 2021 and committed to a weekly schedule of participation and leadership under the direction of Pastor Garth Adams. I am grateful to work with Carmel’s choir members who, by faith, are led by the HOLY SPIRIT in their attendance, are willing to share their vocal gifts, and are receptive to my teaching style.
I thank the Carmel Presbyterian Church family for entrusting me with this responsibility and for the opportunity to continue my spiritual growth with you.