What Roger Williams music means to me
The Gift of a Gift
Written by Jim Coleman
"Many seek the favor of a generous person, and everyone is a friend to those who give gifts." -Proverbs 19:6
I'm not sure I'll ever be able to understand exactly why, but Roger Williams' smash hit, "Autumn Leaves," has a special place in my heart. I heard Roger play this arresting tune countless times in my association with him through Crystal Cathedral Ministries over a period of nearly 40 years. And, of course, I've heard it even more times on radio and recordings.
At a certain point in every one of his concerts, Roger would have an audience member join him on stage, and ask the entire audience to shout out the names of their favorite songs and tunes. The chosen person would franticly write down maybe 40 titles of popular tunes... "My Way"...then someone would shout, "On Wisconsin"...then someone else would yell out their favorite tune. And, so it went.
Then, for the next 15 or 20 minutes, Roger would combine all of these melodies into a lovely and entertaining medley of music. He knew them all from memory and knit them together as only a master pianist can. Twice at these concerts I personally shouted out, "Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1." Roger would always respond, "That takes 20 minutes, we don't have the time."
One day I was sitting in a burger joint waiting at a table for my lunch, when my cell phone rang. It was Roger. The amazing thing was that I was actually thinking about calling him at that very minute. He asked how I was and I said, "Fine, but I've got a bone to pick with you."
"Pick away," he said. I told him that I always requested the opening to Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1, and he never played it. He quickly said, "Hold on." I heard the phone clunk as he set it down. I thought he was answering his doorbell or taking another phone call. Then, the very next thing I heard was the beautiful opening to Tchaikovsky's Piano Concerto #1, live, over the phone, being played by a world-renowned master! This eighteen gold and platinum record-winning icon, Roger Williams, playing a special tune just for me - his audience of one. I was overwhelmed then, and still am today. I felt like the most honored person in the world.
What a special gift he gave to me on that day. The gift of music - the most precious commodity that Roger Williams possessed - his truly special gift from God...a gift that he spent his entire life refining to near perfection. He could not have given me anything of greater value. It was a sliver of heaven from God.