Roger gave me a book of stories of women who changed the 20th century, which I didn’t begin reading until recently. I was so overjoyed in reading about these women with whom I am contemporary, having read many of their books and being acquainted with their contributions that I was mad at myself for not picking it up sooner. Some of these women are still alive.
As I read Marian Anderson’s story, I had a very warm feeling recalling how I was privileged to hear her sing when I was a teenager. I was impressed that she got her boost into the singing profession when, at 10 years of age, already singing in the adult choir, the director and choir members recognizing her unusual singing ability, initially raised money for her singing lessons. With her rich contralto voice, she made “He’s Got the Whole World in His Hands” into a favorite song which to some extent was her testimony in life. In 1939 she performed at the Lincoln Memorial drawing seventy-five thousand supporters and millions more radio listeners and went on to become famous in the 1940’s.
When Roger called that evening, I thanked him again for that special book and the thrilling story about Marian Anderson. “Did I ever tell you that I heard her sing?” “No”, he said, “but I’d like to hear about it.”
Edith Gaynor, our choir and youth director, gathered up a car load of teens one evening and drove to Columbus to hear Marian Anderson. None of us had an inkling who Marian Anderson was and why this was something Edith wanted us to experience. She loved music and wanted the teens to have the same exposure to music that she had received. She knew what a tremendous opportunity it would be for our youth group to experiencehearing Marian Anderson, but it would take years before I appreciated it.
“That’s is a great story, Mom. Sounds like a good blog.” The wheels in my mind began turning about how without fanfare, Edith Gaynor, our choir director, invested her time and money into others’ offspring in that small EUB church where she was Youth director and choir director. I have written about Edith in earlier blogs and the positive influence she had on my life, but I want to expand on her musical life-changing investments for others as well.
John, Mac and I, new to the church, were invited to join the adult choir along with other teens. Edith was a fun-loving and gifted director who reached out to teens to join the adult choir. Naturally, since we were school friends, we cut up at times during practice, but she laughed with us and patiently directed.
Like Marian Anderson’s choir director, Edith recognizing the musical abilities of several young choir members, none of us from wealthy homes, invested in our potential. Without asking if we were interested or had time, she arranged and paid for individual voice lessons under Dr. Triber, an outstanding vocal teacher, for Rosie, John, Mac and me.
Dr. Triber realized immediately that Rosalind, one of the older teens, had unusual talent and after high school graduation, took her to New York where she attended a music conservatory and with her rich contralto voice much like Marian Anderson’s, became very well-known and a sought-after soloist. Rosie also sang in many churches.
I wrote earlier how Edith during the same time encouraged me to take piano lessons by setting me up with a top-notch piano teacher and financing the lessons. That teacher, seeing that I was a serious student, focused on preparing me to meet the requirements for piano at Moody Bible Institute.
Arriving at Moody, the first thing on my agenda was to audition with Don Hustad, the Music Director. When I was finished, he kindly told me that even though I had met the piano requirements, that most of the other students have had 15 years of preparation compared to my two and I couldn’t possibly handle the competition of weekly recitals.” What do you suggest I do?” I asked tearfully. I was already enrolled in the music course, so I’d have to change courses.
“I see in your file that you’ve had voice lessons, so you could switch to that major.” Which I did for a couple of weeks until I admitted that I preferred learning to teach the Bible more than being a soloist. Even though I left the music course, Don Hustad allowed me to remain in the acapella Moody Chorale. Being exposed to the intense Moody Chorale practicing, singing at school events, performances in local churches in Chicago and tours during vacations to other states including Canada, was one of my most treasured experiences. So, once again, the investment that Edith made in providing vocal lessons paved the way for my continued membership of the Moody Chorale.
This blog originated from the Marian Anderson story and the investment that the group of adults who saw her potential and with their tangible gift spurred her on in developing her unusual singing talent, and how Edith Gaynor invested in the youth, especially in Rosie’s fantastic musical achievements, but in the midst of my writing, I received a phone call from Rosie’s daughter who found my phone number in her mother’s address book. She said she remembered her mother mentioning Jim and Ruthie Ward in York. At 91, Rosie was released last week from this world to her Forever home. Oh, how I will miss her!
Her daughter was delighted to hear some stories about Rosie’s teen years and was interested to learn that we knew Dr. Triber and his giving vocal lessons to all of us and the connection with Edith Gaynor. She and her brother had met Dr. Triber and his wife, Ellen, over the years in New York.
I told her daughter that even though I had never met her or her brother, that I felt like I knew them from her mom’s two-pager Christmas newsletters with photos of her kids and additional notes in the margins. Jim and I were delighted a couple of years ago she zigzagged through York for a weekend.
I volunteered to inform Edith’s son and my brothers about Rosie’s homegoing. Losing a parent is very tough. However, this small group of Rosie’s friends have the opportunity to stay in contact with her adult children and encourage them.
This blog has turned into a two-fold focus. The far-reaching results of investing in others’ offspring and investing in young people who have lost a parent.
Your comments, questions and experiences are always appreciated. Use my email at the top.
I know the plans I have in mind for you, declares the Lord. They are plans for peace and not disaster to give you a future filled with hope. Jer. 29:11.
Dear Father, open our eyes to those who need assistance and
encouragement, and we will give you the glory. Amen
If you’d like to find the book: 100 Christian Women who Changed the 20thCentury, Helen Kooiman Hosier, (Fleming H. Revell Pub.)