Rev. Billy C. Wirtz
Sittin’ In With
Heart and Soul
By Rev. Billy C. Wirtz
Each week Rev. Billy C. Wirtz tells us about artists, albums, and music that we need to know about. This week he is sitting in with the Sacred Steel master Aubrey Ghent.
“I feel that music is next to my soul.”
Aubrey Ghent wastes no time in clarifying the importance of music in his life.
“Music reaches into my heart and grabs me. Since I’ve gotten older, I’ve found that music speaks to me about this remarkable journey we call life.”
So much for leading the witness, three minutes into the interview and he’s already thrown two strikes over the plate.
He repeats his last thought as an observation on the secret of great music in general.
“It just reaches in and grabs you.”
When I begin to ask about music it became apparent that the theme of “from the heart” served as his bridge to otherwise disconnected genres and eras. Here are some of his favorites as he explained them:
“You won’t believe this, but my heart is with Aretha Franklin, her music is authentic. Her singing reaches in and grabs your soul.”
“Sam Cooke is one of my favorites. Sam had a unique style all by himself. I enjoy listening to his older music.”
“As far as the older singers, I love Mahalia Jackson and Sister Rosetta Tharpe. They sung from the heart. Again, they each had a very unique sound. I feel that God touched them and gave them each a unique style that no one can ever copy.”
When I asked him about country music, he laughed and admitted, “I love Roy Orbison. [Once again] he sang straight from the heart.”
I always end such interviews by asking about artists perhaps not known to the public at large. When I posed the question to Aubrey, he answered:
“Henry Nelson, my father.”
NOTE: Henry Nelson was one of the pioneers of Sacred Steel.
“His playing was transcendent. It was unique with every string he plucked. Every note that rang out was just a gift of love, and I can’t get over that. It was how he did it, and the way he did it.”
As our interview was winding up, Aubrey added some random thoughts about music and the business in general:
“I have total respect for anyone that has spent their life in this business.“
As far as younger players:
“Keep at it! God has blessed them all.”
Aubrey Ghent speaks as he plays, simple, on point, and with a quiet passion.
As our chat drew to a close, I mentioned to him his reoccurring theme of “music from the heart.”
Once again, he threw a strike. However, for the first time since we began, he didn’t have to think about an answer. This one came direct from the source:
“I was taught to always play from the heart. I have a genuine belief that when you honestly play from the heart, God both sees it and hears it.”
Rev. Billy C. Wirtz is a weekly columnist at BluesWax. Each week he finds artists, albums, and music that you should know about. He also plays piano. His radio show, Rev. Billy’s Rhythm Revival, is available in podcast. To hear the latest, go to Rev. Billy C. Wirtz’ page on Facebook and look for the link.
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