December is a month of beautiful, nostalgic music. How lucky we are that Christmas comes at the end of the month so that we can enjoy Christmas carols and Christmas songs all month long.
Music is a big part of our fellowship. I’ve known people to visit our church just to hear the music. We have our wonderful Sally Smith-Adams, who plays the piano for us each week; her playing is superb. Back in 2010, Muriel Chess was desperate to find someone to play the piano for our choir. When Sally and Roger Adams appeared as new members, Sally told Muriel that she could play. Imagine that! When Muriel heard her play, it just about blew her mind.
Substituting for Sally when she is at a gig or out of town, are Connie Hart and Sheila Woods who both play beautifully, and we have Gordon Hart who plays the guitar and sings for us at different times. On Nov. 17, Gordon played his guitar and sang, “Mr. Bojangles” which was a beautiful rendition of the song written and made famous by Jerry Jeff Walker.
Sheila Woods considers playing the piano a “joyful hobby”. She says, “Learning to play the piano is an intensive work of love; it’s art embedded with lots of patience, thought and true grit”. Growing up, Sheila played for her grandma, and she often played and sang with her sister, while the family joined in around the piano during the holidays. What a joyful memory she has about Christmas with her family.
Connie Hart grew up loving music, starting piano lessons at age 8. She taught elementary music for 28 years. She worked with Gordon as a vocalist and keyboardist, traveling extensively in the US and Canada in resorts and hotels. After their son Kevin was born, Connie returned to teaching elementary music, playing for UU Churches. She now accompanies for the Dunnellon Community Chorale, for Cantatas at the First Methodist Church in Dunnellon and of course, assists with music at the NCUU since she and Gordon joined the church in 2013.
Gordon Hart began playing the trumpet in elementary school at the age of 8. He began his musical career as a guitarist/vocalist in the 1960s in the Washington, DC area. He moved to northern California in the mid 70s and toured the US and Canada with 4 and 6 piece bands until the late 70s when he and Connie settled in Ft. Lauderdale and performed for many years in venues in South Florida. He is also an accomplished poet and photographer.
Sally Smith-Adams and her husband Roger came to us in 2010. Sally has been a full-time career musician, but took a short sabbatical while her two children were very young. She was a fixture in the clubs, hotels and restaurants of the mid-Hudson Valley region of New York.
Sally played in the Catskill Mountains where so many famous singers, comedians, and novelty acts performed. She eventually became the piano conductor/leader of the Show Band at the world famous
We have two other very famous entertainers, Maralyn Boyson, and Kathryn Taubert.
After graduating from the Texas Christian University where she majored in dance, Maralyn moved to NYC to study with the American Theater Wing which sponsors the Tony Awards. One thing led to another, and Maralyn made it to Broadway and worked with Bette Midler in “Fiddler on the Roof”, and also appeared in “Bye, Bye Birdie” with Bobby Rydell. She appeared off Broadway in “Annie” and “Kismet” and had parts in the TV shows, Magnum PI, Hawaiian Heat, and Seventh Ave. Maralyn retired and moved to Florida and eventually found the NCUU in 1999.
Kathryn hasn’t yet sung for us, but has agreed to showcase her talent in our fund raiser concert on February 23 and 25 along with Sally, Connie, Gordon, and possibly Maralyn. Be sure to hold that date. I heard Kathryn sing when I played two of her CDs at home, and I was amazed at her sultry voice and enchanting style.
Kathryn played in resort hotels and dinner club venues reminiscent of 40s and early 50s music. She performed in Manhattan and Connecticut jazz clubs. In 2007, her CD, “Where Can I Go Without You?” was
On Christmas Eve, we will have our annual Candlelight Service at 7PM. Our choir will sing, and we will have a solo by Jean McCauley; it will be a beautiful and moving service. Please be sure to attend.
On New Year’s Eve, we will have our annual “Banishing Ceremony” outside in the Memorial Garden at the pit at 6PM. We’ll have lots of fun banishing our bad karma, and taking in good cheer.
Have a very Merry Christmas everyone, and a Happy, Healthy, and Prosperous New Year!