Speaking of the Speers

Apropos the discussion below in re Harold Lane and the Speer legacy, I draw your attention to an upcoming Speer family tribute event keyed off the 90th anniversary of the group’s formation. More information here (h/t, SS).

Meanwhile, this:

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Comments

  1. Shawn Degenhart wrote:

    “H,” as he was affectionately known, was my songwriting teacher at Stamps-Baxter in 1998, the first year I attended. He was a gracious, unassuming, and so talented. By the time I joined the faculty in 2004, he was no longer teaching, but his imprint is still felt all over the school to this date. Last year, a small group of us were able to visit his nursing home and sing many of his songs. While he was mostly unresponsive, there were times of recognition and acknowledgment that he knew these songs we were singing. Tears filled our eyes as we sang “Bless me, Lord, don’t pass me by…” and “Well Done, My Child.” At one point, he tried to move his arms and direct us as we sang. What a blessing and memory that was to all of us that were able to see him. I’m sure this morning we’d find him touring that city he wrote about so many times!
    We’ll incorporate a small tribute to Harold in our upcoming 90th anniversary concert next week.

  2. Stephen Shearon wrote:

    I’ll iterate what Shawn wrote above. My own bumbling associations with the persons discussed here — approaching them as a fairly ignorant outsider — has been a blessing to me. I too was invited to accompany the Speers, along with Shawn and some of the other teachers from the S-B School, to visit Mr. Lane in his nursing home up in Lebanon. The whole experience was quite moving. I knew how very lucky I was to be with those people at that time and place, singing for and to Harold Lane. He seemed at first not to recognize us or the songs, or even that we were singing. Then, as Shawn wrote, he began to respond a little–more so after Ben went over, took his hand, and spoke quietly to him.

    I first met Mr. Lane at the Texas Southern School of Gospel Music (Corsicana), probably in 2005, where he was teaching the songwriting class. He was already suffering from the disease that eventually claimed his body, but he was clearly giving a great gift to the students in that class: nothing less than his best and personal attention to each student. How lucky were they?

    Gracious, unassuming, and talented–and truly Christian–gets it.

  3. Janice Greogry wrote:

    Harold Lane, was a kind , humble brilliant musically, and worked with a quartet I played for a for years and he could work magic to help them almost. We would take him to Cracker Barrel afterwards and he would share stories of days gone by with the Speers. My luck was, each year, he would call once, and ask had I gotten my new Stamps book yet, and would go through the book with me over what songs he thought would “sing” well and would be used and some that he really likes but did not think folkds would use them. HE even drove all the way from Nashville to Carthage where my husband is music director and I was church pianist one Wed night to work with our choir. We had purchased the Stamps book that year. Some of our men of our church grilled hamburgers and hot dogs and we had a cookout and wonderful choir practice, and I so enjoyed playing for him. My greatest memory is once at Cumberland Valley School iat Martin Methodist College, Bro Lowell Baggett had just hand written a convention song and Eugene McCammon, myself, Harold, and Bro Baggett were all looking at it and they wanted to sightsing a verse of it , there in the lobby, no piano and I am a much better pianist than a singer, but I wound up all huddled in a circle with thiese brilliant musical men singing alto. and Harold’s tenor was so pure it was if it braced my alto and just picked it up and carried it on this new piece of music we were singing. It was the easiest I had ever sang with anyone ever. Our family loved Harold, and will always remember things he said, and did , and how he directd, and what a genuis songwriter and arranger he was. My son Setth, had his picture made with Harold and Eugene McCammon when around 3 or four years old, and he would not take money for that picture. Seth has a deep passion for this wonderful shape note convention music that has to be born in you. Yes, you can develop a love for it, but I think some are born with the making of a singer, player, writer, and Seth has always loved singing from a tot on.

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