I had the privilege of meeting my musical inspiration last weekend in Carrolton, Texas. It was not in a smoke and lights filled arena, but rather a modest church setting with a handful of devoted followers. I’m sure Mr. Duncan would have preferred a bigger crowd to play to, but I wouldn’t have had it any other way. I was honored to get the rare opportunity to not only meet my “mentor”, but to hang out with him for a few minutes and tell him how much I appreciated his ministry and how it inspires me to this day. I’ve been a fan since 1985 and 15 albums later, I find myself to be a kindred spirit as i get to know more about him. The lyrics of one of his signature songs, “Mr. Bailey has a Daughter” are reminiscent of my own past… I can’t help but share some of the parallels.
According to the song, Bryan tells his autobiography of a “lower middle class American preacher’s kid” whose dad pastored a small Pentecostal church
(mine was the story of a lower middle class American music director’s kid from a small baptist church)
Bryan was “born on Saturday and in church on Sunday and he guarantees he was never late because mom was the organ player and the Sunday school teacher, while he took up the offering –they would always make him give it back”
(myself? I was born on Friday, and most likely in church a week from Sunday, and we were never late because I was the piano player who played DURING the offering)
He goes on… “Like most people, over the years. I got used to sayin’ and doin’ all the right things, whether I believed it or not….Cause if I didn’t I had the largest gathering of elderly ladies ever to act upon their moral obligation to report everything I ever said or did.”
(me? …ditto…my Mema was the primo elderly lady who set me straight)
Then Bryan has an epiphany of sorts… “So, you can understand why I loved goin’ to the youth conventions, ’cause it proved beyond a shadow of a doubt there were girls goin’ to church who were under sixty-five years of age. And suddenly there she was, fourth row back, on the left, in the choir, the absolute dream of every kid ever to seek permission to borrow the family car!”
That choir loft dream was Mr. Bailey’s daughter, and likewise for me there were monthly youth rallies and my own version of Mr. Bailey’s daughter.
I’ve learned a few other things about Bryan recently. He went to Bible college, as did I. Rumor has it he might have even sung a little “southern gospel”, as did I. It seems we both left our southern gospel roots to explore other music styles. He became a recording artist, and I eventually became a worship leader. Oh, and we both play the keys, and just enough of the guitar to say “I play the guitar”.
I’ve followed Bryan’s career from vinyl (I have one he signed when I met him at the since defunct Joshua’s Christian store in the early 90’s) to cassettes, to CDs, and to digital downloads. I could never had predicted 20 years ago that Bryan’s entire discography would eventually be on my person at all times! (Some day, my dream is to play a music set with Bryan, and if you’re reading this Bryan – I’ll be your econo-band anytime you need me). I’ve stuck with him during his leaner years, and his personal struggles which he has been so transparent about over the past decade. I not only admire his talent of prolific songwriting, but am soberly appreciative of the genuine life experiences which mark these remarkable labor-fruits. Indeed, in this day of praise and worship emphasis, Bryan Duncan is true to his musical roots and more importantly to the One who planted him in the funky-bluesy-soulful soil of the past few decades. I’m grateful for his talent, his authenticity, and his faithfulness to his God. Most of all, I’m inspired as Bryan Duncan never ceases to cultivate the gifts he’s been given in the life he’s been given by the God who has Bryan where he wants him. Planted. Rooted. Fruit-bearing. Blooming all over!
If you’re late to the game, please do yourself a favor and obtain Bryan’s latest album, Conversations. You can order a CD or download it here. Enjoy!