BY CAROLYN GRIFFIN
The Greenville Standard
I am truly honored and grateful for the opportunity to share Black History Moments during the month of February.
As usual, I had a plan for the first article, but God had a different plan. Music has always been and will always be an important part of Black History and our culture.
I was blessed to have a firm foundation in music. It was planted in me by my two moms.
My mom, the late Rev. Bettie Jones Robinson Bones, sang in the church choirs, in groups, and alone. She could raise a hymn like none other.
I fondly remember us singing on many occasions at home. Many of her favorite songs are also my favorites today. Music in the Black family has helped us to weather many storms.
My second mom, Mom Alice as I call her, was also very instrumental in teaching me the importance of music.
She is my first memory, of what we then called, a piano player. As I grew older, I realized that she was and still is, so much more.
We did not play, talk, or chew gum during choir rehearsal or during service. Mom Alice was serious about music and she taught me and so many others to appreciate it. I did not understand it all then, but I am so grateful for her ministry today.
She also played songs for Sunday School at First Baptist Church where I grew up. History is now repeating itself. At 94 years young, she is now playing music for the KBBN weekly Sunday School broadcast.
I had planned to share parts of her story in an article about music in Butler County. After reading what she shared with me, I decided to share it alone. It is in her own words, exactly as she wrote it. Enjoy!! Kingdom Blessings!!
“Mother Alice D. Shambray. Better known by Mom Shambray. Born June 4, 1926 – Parents Sam & Ruby D. Henderson – 111 Whitaker St. Greenville, Alabama
My musical talent began between 5 & 6 years of age, going to church with my grandmother, where she was the musician at First Baptist Church. Returning from the church one Sunday, I went to the piano and began to play the song my grandmother had played, “At Whispering Hope.” My family began to call people from the street to come in and hear me play.
At 8 yrs. Old, Rev. Palmer gave me the task to play for Sunday School every Sunday. He gave me 25 cents each Sunday. That was “Good Trouble.” My grandmother passed in the 1930’s. My mother became musician at the Church, until she passed in 1947. Then I became the musician from 1947 until 1970 when God moved me from Greenville, Ala. to San Francisco, CA. Leaving 5 active choirs. Jr., Sr., Mission, Communion, & Funeral.
I never forgot where I came from. Traveling with choirs & concert tours, Washington D.C., New Orleans, Bahamas, Bermuda Cruise Ships. Being one of the musicians at St. Paul F.B. Church for 29 years. Returning to Alabama after 49 years. Residing in Montgomery, Ala. with daughter, Mrs. Helen Johnson. Everyone calls us twins. (laugh) But I know better. I am Mom.
I Would Not Take Nothing for my Journey Now. God never left me. I thank my other daughter, Evg. Carolyn Griffin for asking me to share my life’s story. To God Be The Glory!!”