One of the many joys I treasure about my church, Asbury Memorial United Methodist here in Savannah, has to be the fact that both the Pastor (Rev. Billy Hester) and his wife (Cheri) have backgrounds as actors and singers on Broadway. Really, I’m not kidding. [Me, I have ALWAYS wanted to be able to say I have a background in something. Something like, I don’t know, Child Movie Star or Discover of Element Boron or Transatlantic Swimmer, but so far all I have come up with is this: “Neal has a background in Really Enjoying Licking Postage Stamps.” And that just sounds so dementedly tacky.]
Anyway, Rev Billy is a terrific sermonizer. And yesterday’s “The Wisdom of Satchmo and the Great Schnozzola” made such an impression on me that I decided to share the essence of the lesson with you. It takes two musical greats, Louis Armstrong and Jimmy Durante (Google or You Tube them, children) and examines how and why they had such amazingly influential careers and positively impacted so many, many people then and now (in spite of the fact that neither had very good singing voices–actually, quite the opposite.)
Rev. Billy posited that five factors contributed to Armstrong’s and Durante’s beloved greatness (and can also encourage us toward more joyful and effective lives).
1. Phrasing. In their music they understood the power of vocal phrasing. They knew what to say and when to say it. (If you listen to them both sing, much of their work sounds more like talking than actual singing.) Likewise, we (well, I, for sure) need to concentrate on what we say, how we say it and when is the most opportune time to speak.
2. Accompaniment. Armstrong and Durante relied heavily on talented accompaniment to make their music top-notch. The folks who inhabit my world (and yours) also have strong contribution to who and what we are. Mama was right about the importance of who we hang with. (Okay, maybe she didn’t say “hang with.”)
3. They liked people. Enough said.
4. They were flexible and adaptable. Both sang jazz, which is all about improvisation. In their shows and concerts, Armstrong and Durante made mistakes but used them to their advantage, often causing an even greater end result. Perhaps we should all just loosen up a bit. (If you know me, the next time you see me, stop me and YELL “Loosen up, Neal!” in my face. Thank you.)
5. They both had tremendous senses of humor. And they could laugh at themselves. I guess they had to, with names like Satchmo (big mouth) and Schnozzola (big nose). Of course, I’m a fine one to talk, with my big head. (The next time you see me, DO NOT STARE AT MY HEAD. Thank you.)
As the pastor brought to life these two musical legends, he impersonated each one WITH FUNNY BUT AMAZING ACCURACY. With Jimmy Durante, Rev. Billy introduced and discussed these encouraging lyrics of the classic “Make Someone Happy”:
“Make someone happy,
Make just one someone happy,
And you will be happy, too.”
Here’s the actual (very short) song. I encourage you to take a moment and listen to it.
Now being the World Famous Blogger that I am, I hereby issue you, Faithful Blog Followers, a CHALLENGE:
This last week of August 2012
set your goal
to make at least one person
with whom you come in contact
How? There are a myriad of ways. Brainstorm a bit. I’m asking that you share with us here on the blog a little about your experience with the challenge. What a difference we can make in other people’s worlds. Try it!
(Click on the link below to see Rev Billy in action and view the entire sermon.)
And here’s a very cool video of Armstrong and Durante singing together: