Wyoming church member’s CD benefits Haitian children’s home
Elementary school music teacher Tom Wilson, a member of the Lander Church of Christ in Wyoming, has released his second CD, The Stone of Beth-El.
Wilson’s Irish and Scotch heritage and backpacking adventures in his native Wyoming inspired him to fuse “Celtic, folk and symphonic flavors.”
Classically trained on the euphonium (a half-size tuba), Wilson, 40, and his wife, Sarah, are the parents of Katie, 2.
They also had a son, David, who was born prematurely last year and lived less than three hours. The intense personal trial showed Wilson the redemptive power of music, he said. All profits from this CD benefit the Cap Haitien Children’s Home, a children’s home in Haiti associated with Churches of Christ.
In an interview with The Christian Chronicle, Wilson answered questions about his music and cause.
What is the significance behind this CD’s title (“The Stone of Beth El”)?
“The title is from Genesis 28. ‘Beth El’ — ‘House of God’ — is the name of the standing stone Jacob set up when he was going into exile as a memorial of a promise between him and God. About five years ago, I was forced into a spiritual journey I really didn’t want to take: a crisis of faith that required me to leave behind many things I thought I knew. When I first set out on a search for truth, I made God a promise that I later realized was almost identical to Jacob’s. So this collection of songs is my standing stone: A memorial to a journey well-taken and to the faithful God who showed me the way home.”
You describe your musical style as Celtic, folk and symphonic flavors: What has inspired and influenced you musically?
“I grew up in a fairly musical home where everybody sang and Mom wrote songs and played the piano. The music coming from the stereo ranged from the New York Philharmonic to Sandi Patti to the Smothers Brothers. So my background is a real hodge-podge. While studying music and playing euphonium in college, I took up long-distance backpacking. I love music around the campfire, and it didn’t take long to figure out that I wasn’t tough enough to backpack with a euphonium. About the same time, I started to really take an interest in my musical heritage: the old folk songs of America and the traditional music of Scotland and Ireland. So it just made sense to take up the penny whistle, which is about as traditional as you can get, and eminently portable!”
How did you first get involved with the Cap Hatien Children’s Home?
“I organized a work team of teens from all over Wyoming to go to Haiti in 2001, at the urging of an old missionary friend named Stanley Shipp. I had traveled overseas, and I had done a lot of youth work, but I had never combined the two, and I had never traveled to a developing nation. I was terrified, but it sounded too good to say no. I have been back twice since then, once by myself and once with my wife and another couple.”
Why is it important to you to express yourself creatively through music?
“I can say things with music that I can’t say with words alone. There is a reason we are told throughout the Bible to sing and make music. Some aspects of faith call for scholarship and logic. But others call for music and poetry. A relationship with God is big enough to require everything we are: Heart, soul, mind and strength — the whole being. A really good song can involve all of those things, too. So expressing faith musically is a natural thing to do.”
Kimberly Mauck is the Reviews Editor for The Christian Chronicle.