Only a few months ago, I started voice lessons with Mark Power, a Seattle-area voice coach, composer, and a singer/performer in many operas and musicals. I knew little about Mark's personal background, but I gave him a copy of the book I published in 2011: The Sword of the Lord: The Roots of Fundamentalism in an American Family. My book tells the history of fundamentalism over the past two centuries, and connects that history with the history of my own family across the generations.
To my surprise, I discovered that Mark and I shared a similar personal history. He also had grown up in a strongly fundamentalist family; he also had rejected that legacy for an important part of his life, and then struggled, like me, to come to terms with his family's history through his own personal spiritual journey. Like my grandfather, John R. Rice, Mark Power's grandfather had been a preacher and a tent revivalist, preaching thousands of sermons in revivals across North America.
When Mark finished reading my book, he came back excited and inspired by our shared history and the power of the story!
"Did you ever think about turning your story into an opera?" he asked.
I was thoroughly shocked, but also immediately intriguied by the idea.
"Well, no," I said. "But I have thought a lot about the importance of using music to tell the story of my life and my my family. That's why I'm taking voices lessons from you!"
"Well, you should think about it. This could be something really powerful."
"OK, I'll think about it."
And then we continued with my voice lesson.
That short conversation was the seed of a conversation that lengthened, deepened, and grew into a full-fledged idea. Stay tuned as the journey continues!