Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation. I have been attending NWUUC since 2004, when I first moved to Atlanta. I served as an interim music director three times, keeping the music program going while various search committees looked for new music directors. After serving as interim for the third time, I thought, "enough of this interim stuff," and applied for the position.
I've been a freelance musician most of my adult life, doing this and that to make ends meet. Except for my four-year stint in the Air Force, this has been the longest I've held anything resembling a normal job. Maybe "normal" isn't quite the word I'm looking for. This music director job is far from normal!
As I've grown more comfortable with the job, the music has evolved and grown at Northwest. When I first started, the music program was very traditional, with the choir singing two Sundays each month, me providing the music once a month, and the pianist providing music on my Sundays off. My initial goal was to simply keep the music program going as it was while I got used to the job, but soon the program started to reflect my own musical tastes. Before I took over, the music was classically oriented. It still is, but I've introduced a lot more jazz, rock, and folk into the mix than there used to be. I used to perform the music alone on "my" Sundays, but our minister suggested that guitar alone didn't always feel right; there needed to be more. So I recruited a bassist and a percussionist from the congregation to play with me. This grew into an official church band, with a lead singer, two guitars, flute, bass, piano, and percussion.
This year, I experimented with combining the band and choir for two services. It was a hit. The band loved playing with the choir, and the choir loved singing with the band. After a summer break, we are going to combine the band and the choir once a month. On top of that, the band/choir Sundays will feature a "join-in" choir, meaning that absolutely anyone can sing in the choir that day as long as they can be at the pre-service rehearsal that Sunday morning.
I learn every day from this job. It certainly has taken its twists and turns. The combined band/choir is something I never would have anticipated when I first began serving as Director of Music. Where does it go from here? Who knows? We'll keep the band/choir ensemble rolling for a while, and I imagine something new will evolve over time.
- Tom Godfrey
- Atlanta, GA, United States
- When I suffered a lip injury that ended my career as a classical trombonist, I thought my life as a musician was finished, but I fell in love with music all over again when Santa gave me a guitar for Christmas in 2003. Even as I was struggling with my first chords, I was planning a new performance career. As a trombonist, I performed with the Heritage of America Band at Langley Air Force Base, the Ohio Light Opera, and in pick-up bands for touring acts that included Rosemary Clooney, George Burns, and the Manhattan Transfer. Reborn as a jazz guitarist, I sing and play my own solo arrangements of jazz classics, am half of the Godfrey and Guy duo, and hold the guitar chair in the Sentimental Journey Orchestra. I have been a freelance music copyist since 1995 and have been music director at Northwest Unitarian Universalist Congregation since 2011.