I have been around music all of my life. In my earlier years most of it was church music since my Dad was a bi-vocational music minister in many of the churches that we attended. I was born in Oklahoma but I have spent the majority of my life in Texas. From the time I was about a year old and on through high school we lived all around the state — most of the time in fairly small towns: Texarkana, Tyler, Lolita, Floydada, and Liberty.
As a very young child I don’t recall doing a lot of singing. The few memories that I have of singing are:
- In the car when we went on trips (mostly to Oklahoma to visit relatives).
- In church, singing hymns (where I learned to harmonize sitting next to my Mom — she sang alto).
- Singing some songs with my sister, Linda. She’s only a year (and six days) older than me and she was much more into singing than I was at the time.
I didn’t really get into singing much until I was a freshman in high school at which time our church (First Baptist Church of Liberty) really put a lot into building its youth program which was based around the youth choir. It was the era of “Up With People” and the Christian music publishers were putting out youth musicals left and right. The first one that I was in that our youth choir performed was called “Life”. Later we went on to do “Love” and “Joy”. I’m not sure what the deal was with those one word names. Maybe that sounded “hip” or maybe they just wanted to keep the name short and simple. Anyway, in that first musical I just sang as part of the chorus – no solos. When someone discovered that I could sing, I started getting some solo parts.
The music minister of our church at that time, John McClung, also directed the youth choir. He finally convinced me to sing my first “special music” for a Sunday morning church service. I was a junior in high school at the time. I don’t remember much about it except I know that I was very nervous. I was glad that we had a large pulpit that I could stand behind, place my music on, and grab hold of for security. The song that I sang was “I’d Rather Have Jesus” — a great song made popular by George Beverly Shea (he didn’t write the lyrics but he did write the tune). Of course, at that time in my life I had no idea who George Beverly Shea was. Outside of church, my music tastes ran along the lines of the Beatles, the Moody Blues, Three Dog Night, and the Guess Who. Even though I liked music a lot and enjoyed singing in youth choir at church, for some reason I never was interested in singing in the choir at school. Go figure. I probably didn’t have time. I was in the band at school (I played the cornet). I also played on the tennis team and stayed pretty busy with academics. I was pretty much a nerd.
I wrote my first song when I was 17 years old and was a senior in high school. It was written at the piano and was based on 1 Corinthians 13, the love chapter. We had a small spinet piano in our living room. My older sister had showed me how to play some chords on the piano. (A quick note here: I always tend to identify her as my “older” sister because I have a younger sister as well — Lou Ann. My parents were in an alliterative mood I guess. Anyway, Lou Ann is 8 years younger than me so in my life as a high school student she wasn’t involved much). Back to the piano. For some reason the chords Linda taught me mostly used the black piano keys so that’s why the first song I ever wrote was in the key of D flat. Not necessarily a difficult key for the piano but it doesn’t translate directly to guitar very well.
After high school I attended the University of Texas in Austin where I joined a Christian singing group called Samaritans. There were many in that group that were music majors and also many that played the acoustic guitar. I decided I wanted to learn the guitar because I could play it in my dorm room whereas the only piano around was downstairs in one of the lounge rooms of the dorm. So I got a guitar and started learning to play from my friends. As a result, most of the music that I wrote during college was written on guitar.
After four years of college I received my Bachelor’s degree in Mechanical Engineering. For about two years after graduating college, I lived outside of Texas (there weren’t many jobs for an ME in central Texas at that time) mostly in Sunnyvale, California. Since moving back to Texas in 1979, I have lived all around the Austin area. First in Round Rock, then Austin, then back to Round Rock, then to Pflugerville, then to Georgetown, back to Pflugerville and now once again I am in Round Rock. Over the years I have added to my musical equipment various and sundry items. With the advancement of computers and technology I now have the ability to record and mix all of my music at home. I have come full circle back to the piano which is where most of my composing is done these days. Most of my music is Christian although I have written a few secular tunes. I was a member of the Round Rock Community Choir for about 8 years which gave me the opportunity to do some singing and composing of a more secular nature although RRCC does do many classical Christian (Bach, Mozart, etc.) and spirituals as well.
For about 4 years I sang as the baritone in a Southern Gospel quartet, HisWay. We sang mostly top 40 Southern Gospel songs and put out 2 CD’s.
I currently sing in a men’s Southern Gospel group called Aire to the Throne. It is comprised of 5 guys from my church in Pflugerville, TX. The group started up a couple of years before I joined the church. I have been a part of Aire to the Throne since 2001 during which time we have published three CD’s. The style of music that I have mostly written in the past isn’t Southern Gospel. Until recently there were only a couple that I wrote that the group sang. One is a Christmas song called Come the Wise Men. There is a version of it on this website that you can listen to but it is not Aire to the Throne singing it. It’s just me doing all the parts. The other song is the title track on our latest CD, Greater Still. However, I have recently started writing more songs that the group has begun performing. Hopefully, we will do another CD and those songs can be on that one.
This is probably more than you ever really wanted to know about me but I wanted to share something about how music has been a part of my life and how it has shaped the music that I create.