When I was describing Oscar Peterson’s Hymn to Freedom last Wednesday, I remembered the first time I heard this mighty music played in person, and that led me to today’s Wednesday Worthy.
I consider myself blessed to have not only listened to Louise in concert, but to have attended workshops she has given, and to have spent time with her in person. Being with her in any context is a rich and empowering experience.
Louise was born in Pennsylvania, and her stories of time in her childhood spent with her grandmother have touched me deeply. Her musical response to her grandmother’s caring is the deeply felt “Suites for Grandma” composed by Louise and performed by her from time to time — fortunate indeed is the person who gets to hear them.
She was involved in music from a very early age, and at EIGHT was conducting her grandfather’s choir. I have a wonderful image in my head of a small girl in pigtails, with a wide smile and a deep voice, holding the adults enthralled. Her training and work have brought her into contact with greats such as Oscar Peterson, Duke Ellington, Ray Charles, Leonard Bernstein and others, but at heart she is still that little girl in love with life and eager to share her music.
Since the 1970s, Louise has made her home base Victoria, British Columbia, Canada — and let me tell you, many people across Canada are grateful for that.
I first experienced Louise’s warmth and musical gifts in the mid-1980s when she was the music resource person for a church conference near where I lived, and then spent a few weeks performing nightly in the lounge of one of the best hotels in my city. She is equally at home in both settings. She plays at jazz festivals, leads school choirs, has a music outreach program for homeless people, and for several years had a well-loved television program called “Let’s Sing Again” on Canada’s Vision TV.
The time with Louise that I treasure most was at a choir workshop she led here in my city. Despite her busy schedule, and the energy it takes to be the sole leader of such a conference, she spent an hour with me, one-on-one, teaching me some of the basics of her style of piano work, helping me to feel the music deep within me, and to translate that feeling through my fingers onto the keys. I treasure the memory of that time with her.
To learn more about Louise, you may visit her website. To have just a tantalizing taste of her warm, rich tenor voice and her soulful piano skills, click on this link, scroll to the information on the CD titled Lovingly, Louise, and listen to the three samples. Mm-mm-mmm, that is some fine singing.
Thank you, Louise, for all the joy and richness you have brought to so many lives, including mine, with your music and your zest for life. You are indeed worthy, any day of the week.