It was appropriately entitled “Keys to Patriotism” and it was an evening to remember. In fact, a veritable unforgettable one that will long be remembered even unto a lifetime for practically everyone in attendance and the reason was a truly simple one: God was there and many felt of his presence since the audience was duly moved in such a manner that can only be achieved when the spirit within recognizes the magnificence in others who’ve been especially blessed by the master himself.
There were five of them, pianists everyone, and of a special caliber since all were virtuosos in their own right and their expertise was readily apparent as their deft fingers fairly flew over the keys of their particular piano. There were five of them arranged in the most spectacular manner on stage in the church for two were situated at floor level while three were specially placed and obviously with great difficulty since they were on platforms at various heights which bespoke of a lavishly produced performance which was intended to have a dramatic effect upon the audience.
As the lights in First Baptist Church Albany dimmed, the audience, sensing something out of the ordinary, hushed and the Pastor, Dr. William Knight, took center stage and thanked everyone for coming and then opened the special performance with a prayer. The uniformed color guard then came marching down the aisle to the front and everyone stood and pledged allegiance to the flag. Then came “The Star Spangled Banner” music by David Clydesdale which was played spectacularly by the talented pianists while a moving scene of stars and stripes billowing impressively in the wind appeared on the stage screen. Following that, came a stirring 9/11 narration by Rev. Ron Holman.
And then, having prepared the way for a truly impressive performance, the stage was cleared and the virtuosos began playing. With extremely deft fingers fairly flying over the keys, the impressive, awe-inspiring music floated out over the audience filling them with a spirit of gladness that they were Christians and Americans while additionally boosting their patriotic fervor and gratitude unto God to such a degree that their thankfulness was readily apparent since, time and again, at the end of each musical composition there was thunderous applause from the standing audience that had to be quieted and reseated in order for the musical extravaganza to resume.
The music, both patriotic and religious, was varied and well chosen since it moved the great crowd to such extremities that is achieved but rarely in one’s lifetime. Two of the exceptional pianists (virtually maestros), displayed their prodigious talent which undoubtedly approaches genius as each played lead piano impressively at various times while the camera zoomed in and attempted to display their gifted hands to the audience as they swiftly caressed the piano keys masterfully. Additionally, Ivey Norton and Jimmie Nettles (each singing solo), sang magnificently, their unusual voices of exceptional quality and timbre capable of reaching the highest notes as well as delightfully low in tone such as required by a lovely melody, thrilled the audience.
Thanks to the minister of music, Pastor Jimmie Nettles and those that assisted him, the entire patriotic and religious scenario on Sunday evening last Sept.11 was a splendiferous musical performance reminiscent of that which is performed in Carnegie Hall on special occasions no less. As a result of that musical extravaganza and through the efforts of the staff of First Baptist Church Albany, those in attendance went home with the knowledge that God is alive and well and he still loves his people and cares for America. And too, what’s no less important is that patriotism abounds in Americans of all ages, it merely has to be stimulated every now and then.
Valkey Midkiff Tiernan of Albany is a veteran of the Korean and Vietnam wars, served in the Air Force 20 years and retired from Marine Corps Logistics Base-Albany in 1997.