By Valerie Henderson

"Little Drummer Boy," "Feliz Navidad," "What Child is This"â¦just to name a few of the beautiful pieces that will be heard throughout the sanctuary of Woodland Heights Baptist Church at the 4th annual "A Keyboard Christmas" to be held on Sunday, December 6. After visiting only a few minutes with these 12 amazing ladies who will be performing, I was overwhelmed with excitement just thinking about this performance that I knew I would not want to miss!
This event was started four years ago after being wished for and encouraged by Rev. David Hatfield, the senior pastor of Woodland Heights Baptist Church for 21 years and the only pastor this church has ever known. The former minister of music, Rev. Alan Moore, took the idea and ran with it, forming the steering committee for this event consisting of Wrenetta Austin, Becky Cameron, Donna Gober, and Betty Taylor. These four women still form the steering committee for this instrumental celebration of Christmas. When asked what this committee does, they explained they not only organize the event and select the music as well, as actively participate in the performance, but they were quick to give credit to all involved, exclaiming this event is made possible and is successful because "it is a team effort of a group of ladies with a sweet, sweet spirit." "A Keyboard Christmas" is now led, and has been for the two previous years, by the current minister of music, Rev. William Love.
These 12 Godly women, all active members of Woodland Heights Baptist Church, are obviously very passionate about this annual upcoming event as they began sharing memories with me from previous years. The "team effort," as well as the love these women share for one another, was evident when listening to stories of how they have helped each other in the past and as they all laughed together while reminiscing about their past performances. Not only is this a fun time of fellowship for these women, but also a time to which they dedicate countless hours of practice, rehearsals, and just general preparation for these remarkable performances. The music selection is complete and everyone receives their assigned pieces in the spring. Practice begins immediately for these ladies with each one practicing independently throughout the summer. In October, regularly scheduled rehearsals begin and lead up to the day of the performances with mandatory rehearsals every night the week before. What was most obvious as I visited with this fun and unique group of talented musicians was that they loved everything about this exciting timeâ¦even the long hours of practice, the hard work, and all of the preparation involved because this is "a gift they joyfully give to the community each year." One of the ladies, Janet Cagle, summed up her feelings about it all when she said, "It is just such an honor to be a part of this group."
"A Keyboard Christmas" has become a tradition for many families, friends, and church members. Last year was the first year the matinee performance was offered, and due to the success of the mid-afternoon performance with a full sanctuary, it will be offered again this year. This performance was added to give those unable to attend the evening performance an opportunity to attend this beautiful celebration of the true meaning of Christmas. Guests attend these "spirit-filled performances" from all over the state. Gayla Grace, one of the musicians, was so excited when she shared that her parents would be attending both performances this year all the way from Denton, Texas!
Please join these talented pianists as they kick off the Christmas season filling the sounds of the sanctuary at Woodland Heights Baptist Church (corner of Prince St. and Hogan Ln.) by so eloquently playing many seasonal favorites on five delicately tuned grand pianos and an organ. (Also, you will not want to miss the surprise guest soloist this year!) Both performances, 3 p.m. and 6 p.m., will be open to the public and admission is free; however, a love offering will be received. "A Keyboard Christmas" is definitely an experience you will not want to miss this holiday seasonâ¦you are sure to be blessed! For more information, please call the church office at 501-329-0001.