Toward more than a good performance

The arts and arts funding have been the center of controversy recently in the United States. In that environment basic questions emerge about the purpose of the arts—questions that explore the nature of creativity and inspiration. In this interview, educator and musician Raymond Jackson talks about some of his experiences in the arts and about the place of spiritual insight in the work he does. Dr. Jackson is chairman of the Music Department at Howard University. He also performs as a concert pianist and church organist.

How do you prepare for a performance? First of all I have to examine what I am doing. What am I expressing? Why am I expressing it? "The Son can do nothing of himself, but what he seeth the Father do: for what things soever he doeth, these also doeth the Son likewise." These words of Christ Jesus have always been very helpful to me, as has this other Bible verse, speaking of God: "He performeth the thing that is appointed for me." The underlying and supporting spiritual dimension is a very important part of the preparation.

The responsibility is there for me, of course, to give a good performance. Of greater importance, however, is the responsiveness that I and the listeners will have to the message of Spirit, God. If I am responsive to Spirit, the message will communicate something meaningful and elevating to everyone involved.

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Courage through obedience to God
August 26, 1991

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