Through the Eyes of Love was a v-e-r-y special concert … all about eyes.
Topping the entertainment was Annetta Deck, a Fairfield Glade United Methodist Church pianist whose talent is unparalleled. She made a special link between the music and visual impairment of each artist whose works she performed.
After stating some of the well-known facts about each musician, Deck played a few of their memorable songs.
Johann Sebastian Bach (1685-1750) was a baroque composer and organist. Revered as one of history’s best composers and most important musicians of classical music, he suffered greatly with poor health and became blind.
Bach’s vision became so poor that he had two operations performed on his eyes in 1750 by a traveling English eye surgeon, John Taylor. About one week after the first operation, Bach needed more surgery because of a reappearance of the cataract. Many painful and vision-reducing complications could have been induced by these intraocular operations: uveitis, secondary glaucoma, hemorrhage, retinal detachment, and even sympathetic ophthalmia.
Bach was completely blind after the operations, and he died less than four months after the final operation.
Deck played Bach’s most famous work Solfeggietto in C minor and Ave Maria (Charles Gounod’s version).
Elvis Presley (1935-1977) is known as the King of Rock’n’Roll, selling more than 600 million albums. He wore glasses in private since childhood. A few years before his untimely death, Presley suffered from glaucoma, making mobility difficult without assistance from his friends and bandmates.
Sitting gracefully at her keyboard, Deck played “CC Rider,” “Are You Lonesome Tonight,” “Heartbreak Hotel,” “Don’t Be Cruel” and “Hound Dog.”
Ray Charles (1930-2004), often referred to as The Genius, started losing his vision at age 5. Two years later, he was blind, apparently because of glaucoma. Charles learned to play the piano as a child by using braille music, a difficult process that requires learning the left-hand movements by reading the braille with his right hand, then learning the right-hand movements by reading braille with the left hand, and combining the two parts. Ray’s music combined blues, gospel and jazz.
Deck played the songs “Georgia on My Mind,” “I Can’t Stop Loving You” and “Hit the Road, Jack.”
Ronnie Milsap is one of most popular country music performers of the 1970s and ’80s. Born in 1943, a congenital disorder rendered him almost completely blind from birth. He was abandoned as an infant and raised in poverty by his grandparents in the Smoky Mountains.
At age 5, Milsap was sent to the Governor’s Morehead School of the blind in Raleigh, NC. His teachers noticed his musical talent a few years later, and soon after, he began singing classical music at Governor Moreland. When he became a teenager, he became influenced by the music of Presley, Charles, Little Richard and Jerry Lee Lewis. Milsap started his own band, and after gaining some fame, he had the chance to record with Presley.
His featured music was “What a Difference You Made in My Life” and “Shake, Rattle and Roll.”
Child prodigy Stevie Wonder became blind shortly after his 1950 birth. He was signed to a Motown label at age 11 and released his single “Fingertips” a couple of years later. He had hit No. 1 on the U.S. Billboard Hot 100, making him the youngest artist ever to top the chart well into the decades to come. Wonder continued to have a string of No. 1 hits that still get airplay on videos around the world.
Deck played “Signed, Sealed, Delivered, I’m Yours,” “Isn’t She Lovely” and “I Just Called to Say I Love You.”
Fats Domino (1928–2017) was one of rock’n’roll’s pioneers. Between 1955-’60, he had 11 top 10 hits. Domino struggled with visual problems in his later years, and stayed mainly in his home, making few public appearances. He will always be admired for his immense musical gifts and contributions.
“He is one of my all-time favorites,” Deck said before playing “Blueberry Hill.”
Patrick Henry Hughes is a multi-instrumental musician from Louisville, KY. He was born in 1988 without eyes and was unable to walk because he lacked the ability to straighten his legs. His father introduced him to the piano at 9 months old. As he studied, Hughes realized a great love for classical music, especially works from Chopin, Rachmaninoff and Debussy. He also loves to play sacred songs.
Deck provided the audience with Rachmaninoff prelude in C minor, and “How Great Thou Art.”
Hughes has previously performed locally, and Deck said she would like to meet him someday.
Interspersed between music provided by Deck, Dennis Donald, Regina Stephens and Terri Utsey entertained the audience with joyful songs with “Eyes” in the title or in their content.
Songs all about Eyes included “Amazing Grace,” “My Chains Are Gone,” “Angel Eyes,” “The Night Has a Thousand Eyes,” “Don’t Close Your Eyes,” “Pretty Blue Eyeshadow,” “Blue Eyes Crying in the Rain,” “Don’t It Make My Brown Eyes Blue,” “Doctor My Eyes,” “Bette Davis Eyes,” “His Eye Is on the Sparrow,” “Can’t Take My Eyes Off of You,” “Through the Eyes of Love” and “Battle Hymn of the Republic.”
Henry Hunniecutt was the master of ceremonies for the evening.
Closing the concert, all cast members and the audience sang Kate Smith’s rendition of Irving Berlin‘s “God Bless America.” This well-organized and thoughtfully created musical just happened to be a lot of FUN!
The Visually Impaired Support Group and its member organizers, Diane Donald and Joyce Lignar, express their appreciation to the sponsors who helped bring Through the Eyes of Love to the Palace Theatre.
They include A1 Auto Repair, Beef & Barrel, Boyd Family Eyecare, Business Equipment Clinic, Crossville Chronicle, Cumberland Plateau Antique Tractor & Engine Association, Dr. John Pino, Eye Centers of Tennessee, Fortes, The Cottage Restaurant (formerly Glade Café), Hair Connections, Highland Federal Savings and Loan, Jean Southard, Kali's Kitchen, Peg Broadcasting, Lyle Dobey, Terri Utsey, Miller Heating & Cooling, Shadden Tire, Southeastern Retina Associates and Stonehaus Winery.
“Through the eyes of love, we thank all the entertainers, sponsors and our two VIS members, who did a great job,” VIS President Linda Simmons said.
Call 931-787-1772 or visit visgroup.org for more about the organization.