Centenary alumni record videos to honor essential workers in Louisiana

SHREVEPORT - Thomas Eugene Keys III '13 and Timothy McCoy '18, both Centenary Hurley School of Music alumni, contributed original performances of "Oh When the Saints" to the "second line to thank our front line" effort organized by 19 Thanks, an organization working to thank Louisiana's essential workers during the COVID-19 pandemic.

On Tuesday, May 19, from 7:00 to 7:19 p.m., 19 Thanks will broadcast the virtual "second line" live on Facebook. Tune in to see the performances by Keys and McCoy, along with a stellar lineup of other Louisiana musicians. Individual videos are also available at 19Thanks.org.

Keys talked about the process and inspiration for his 19 Thanks contribution in a recent Q&A with Centenary Marketing & Communication:


Why did you want to participate in the 19 Thanks effort?
Although I currently live in the DMV (DC/Maryland/Virginia Metropolitan Area), Louisiana has always held a special place in my heart. I grew up in New Orleans, and my family relocated to Shreveport/Bossier after Hurricane Katrina. Also, Centenary College has had a profound impact on my life, and I am so grateful for the lessons I learned as a Hurley and Frost student. When Dr. Hobson approached me about preparing a video to celebrate the first line efforts in Louisiana, it was a no brainer for me!


What was the process for putting the video together?

Well, I have two young daughters at home, so the first process was making sure that I got up early enough so that I wouldn't have them talking in the background :-) After that, I set up my mic and instruments and got to recording. I used my cell phone to record myself and recorded the vocals simultaneously on Logic on my laptop. Then, I synced all the videos together on Final Cut Pro. I'm not an expert media person, but I tried my best through YouTube tutorials and I was pleased with the final project.


What was your inspiration behind the video?

As a New Orleans native, I love jazz music. In fact, my dad, who is a pastor, would have "second lines" in our church as we would finish the service. I would rock out on my little piano with jazz riffs to a similar to a song like "Oh When the Saints." I was initially supposed to just sing and play keys, but I've always wanted to do a video with a mix of the instruments I play. I absolutely love the harmonica because I'm a big fan of the "8th Wonder of the World," Stevie Wonder! Any time I can put in a harmonica solo, I will. As I recorded, I just wanted it to be fun just like the second lines we used to have back home. I love Louisiana because it's such a warm and welcoming place. Southern hospitality is a real thing, and I wanted that to be displayed in the jovial nature of the piece. "Oh When the Saints" is more than just a hymn, it's an anthem about entering the gates of heaven. As a believer, I look forward to that day and wanted to display that joy as much as possible in something that is supposed to uplift spirits and point to hope.


How are you spending your time during the pandemic? How has it affected you and your family?

I serve as a worship pastor at McLean Bible Church in Vienna, VA, so actually I have still been working throughout the week with our church staff preparing for services and caring for our congregants. Although the doors have been closed, the church has still been open, and it's been a great opportunity to display the gospel through many ways, including the gift of music. I've also been helping homeschool my two year old daughter and spending a lot of time taking walks with my family. It's very easy to get cabin fever, but it's been great to spend time with my family. Fun fact, my wife's name is Symphony and my two daughters' middle names are Harmony and Melody. So, I like to say it's a blessing to spend even more time with my masterpieces :-). We continuously pray for all of those who are on the front lines of the pandemic, and we hope that it will end soon so we can visit our family back home in Louisiana, and they can come and visit us.


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