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Joy of music is constant in choir director’s life


A UMNS photo by Michelle Reed.

By Kathy L. Gilbert*
May 8, 2009

Fran Wilson was born “way out in the country” in West Kansas and everybody in his family, at his school and in his church sang.

He pretty much took it for granted that everybody could sing. But the first time other people started telling him he was especially good at it was when the trio he was in earned a blue ribbon at 4H.

“I thought, ‘Hey, I must be pretty good.’” He sang all through elementary school and into high school. When he graduated, he didn’t have enough money to go to college so he joined the Army.

Music stayed a constant in his life—while in the Army he was part of a men’s quartet. When he was finally able to go to college, he wanted to sign up as a music major but he also wanted to play football. He was told he couldn’t do both because each took up a lot of time. He briefly considered going for a math major so he could play football but knew he would be happiest teaching music.

After teaching music for 34 years, he knows he made the right choice.

At 71, Wilson is part of two men’s quartets—Habitat for Harmony and Patent Pending-- and is the choir director for Faith United Methodist Church in Kearney, Neb.

The Rev. Michelle Reed, pastor at Faith United Methodist Church, said Wilson is always reminding the choir to look happy. “He is always telling us we should smile so people will see the joy on our faces.”

“I tell them their faces should match the words. If they have a frown on their face people won’t know what to think,” he said.

“Someone recently said to me that they had sung with him at a funeral,” Reed said. “She said Fran is the only one she knows that sings with such joy on his face—a reflection of his assurance and faith in the abundant life we have in Jesus.”

Wilson is low key about his talents. “People tell me all the time that I have a good voice,” he says. “I write quite a few songs. I’ve written a Palm Sunday cantata that we’ve done twice and people say it’s really nice.”

“Music has been my main life all along … It has been my hobby and my life and my inspirational support,” he said.

When asked how he would like to be remembered, he said, “I hope people remember me as a good Christian. That will be plenty for me.”

*Gilbert is a United Methodist News Service news writer based in Nashville, Tenn.

News media contact: Kathy L. Gilbert, Nashville, Tenn., (615) 742-5470 or newsdesk@umcom.org.

Five Fun Questions

Q: What is the nicest thing anyone has ever said to you about your singing?
A: When I was in the little boy’s trio for 4H we won a blue ribbon so that made me think we were pretty good. People tell me all the time that I have a good voice.

Q: What is your favorite church song?
A: “Beautiful Savior,” “ It is Well With My Soul,” “What a Friend We Have in Jesus”

Q: Do you sing in the shower?
A: Don’t really sing in the shower, the water gets in my way.

Q: Who would you compare yourself to as a singer?
A: I don’t really compare myself to any singer but I admire George Beverly Shea, Tennessee Ernie Ford, the Gaither Show.

Q: What song would you choose at a karaoke party?
A: I doubt they would have the background music, but I would choose “Don’t Wait for the Hearse to Take You to Church” by James Dean Hicks.

Audio

An interview with Fran Wilson, includes a mini-concert of “Don’t Wait for the Hearse,” “No More Sorrow,” “Movin’ Up to Gloryland” and “When I Lift Up My Head”

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