Wednesday, August 19, 2009

Finding Grace on the Potomac - in Robert L. Jefferson


Coltons Point, the oldest continuously occupied chartered settlement in America, has long been known as one of America's best kept secrets. Here is another glimpse of what goes on behind the shroud of secrecy surrounding this charming and largely unknown area of Southern Maryland where the colonists first landed in 1634.

The other night I went to a quaint place called Nekadesh Farm in Colton's Point to a concert by a local resident named Robert L. Jefferson. Now I love all kinds of music so I was up for almost anything but to my surprise this artist played and sang everything as if there was no difficulty transitioning from Opera to Jazz to Gospel to Musical Theater and even to Patriot songs.

The second surprise was the quality of the performance. I am no stranger to Broadway and Opera having spent 16 years in the NYC and New Jersey areas and being somewhat involved in the music scene. Nor am I a stranger to Gospel as I did media projects for Thomas Nelson in Nashville and their record label Word Records along with several other labels.

My idea of exceptional performance was based on seeing and hearing the best singers in the world who performed at the epicenter of music in the opera houses and Broadway stages of the Big Apple to the concert halls and churches of Nashville and Memphis. I was even involved in the 84 piece Metropolitan Symphony Orchestra of NYC whose annual performance of the Best of Broadway brought all the top stars of the musicals.

So down here in quiet Coltons Point I make it a habit to lower expectations and give the artists a chance. Was I ever stunned when Robert sat down at the piano and broke out in song to Bali Ha'i from South Pacific. It was the beginning of a mesmerizing afternoon of music selections from Broadway, the Blues, Gospel and Patriotic genres that enchanted the intimate gathering and left us feeling as if we just survived a breathtaking trip to Oz with Dorothy.

There was magic in the keyboards and magic in the voice as Robert emotionally embraced the wide selection of songs as if they were his own life story. When he closed with the patriotic selections American Anthem and God Bless the USA there wasn't a dry eye in the room. In today's age people seem to have forgotten about the good things in America but for one afternoon they were front and center.

At this point I thought I had my quota of surprises but when I approached Robert after the concert more surprises were in store. He can belt out a song on stage but his humility and humbleness off stage were quite a contrast. Robert followed a slightly different path than most famous or soon to be famous singers and musicians in America.

Of course there was playing the piano at age seven and then joining the gospel choir in church. But he went on to get a bachelors degree, then Masters in Musical Arts while becoming an accomplished soloist, songwriter, recording artist and jazz pianist. Even more astounding, he spent much of his career to date with the US Army Field Band and this group is no ordinary drum and bugle marching band.

As I learned from their web site, from Boston to Bombay, Tokyo to Toronto, The United States Army Field Band has been thrilling audiences of all ages for more than half a century. As the premier touring musical representative for the United States Army, this internationally-acclaimed organization travels thousands of miles each year presenting a variety of music to enthusiastic audiences throughout the nation and abroad. Through these concerts, the Field Band keeps the will of the American people behind the members of the armed forces and supports diplomatic efforts around the world.

Since its formation in March 1946, the Field Band has appeared in all fifty states and in more than thirty countries on four continents. The organization's four performing components, the Concert Band, the Soldier's Chorus, the Jazz Ambassadors, and the Volunteers, each travel over 100 days annually. Tours include formal public concerts, school assemblies, educational outreach programs, festivals, and radio and television appearances.

The United States Army Field Band is considered by music critics to be one of the most versatile and inspiring musical organizations in the world. Its members, selected by highly-competitive audition, represent some of the finest musical talent in America. More than six decades as the military's most traveled musicians have earned them the title, "The Musical Ambassadors of the Army."

This year Robert was involved in a history-making event as The US Army Field Band was part of the Presidential Inaugural event for Barack Obama, our nation's first Black president. It was one of the highlights of Robert's career.

Lest you think he can do all this and more on his own you are mistaken for behind the man stands one amazing woman his wife Pensacola and together they have developed a rapidly expanding ministry that offers teaching programs for Gospel Music and a variety of other music and entertainment related activities including the concert series which got me into this story in the first place.

To learn more and have an opportunity to attend the intimate concerts contact Robert through his web site at;

or you can learn about his ministry at



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