Tuesday, January 5, 2016

Pianist Spotlight: Roger Bennett

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Because I'm a pianist, I pay particular attention to Southern Gospel pianists whenever I get to see them, which isn't often, I'm afraid. (Puhlease bring more concerts to Phoenix!) I want to do a series focusing on my favorites pianists. I would do a list, but I have a lot of favorites, and I have multiple awesome songs for each of them. So today, I'll focus on my favorite songs of Roger Bennett of the Cathedrals, probably my favorite "old" pianist.

I discovered Roger Bennett a few years ago when my parents bought my a book of arrangements by him. It's a very fun book to play through, by the way! A few months later, I decided to look him up on YouTube, where I found this video (the piece starts at 1:20):

I loved this arrangement so much, that I learned it by ear at the beginning of last year. It's one of my staple pieces that I can pull out whenever I need to play an offertory at church on short notice. It's fast, fun, and full of great songs! (Obviously, I don't play exactly like him or even close!)

Another of my favorite Roger Bennett songs is I'm In the Gloryland Way, which I found in his arrangement book.

The thing I like about Roger Bennett's style is that it is fun and Southern Gospel-y, but it's not really flashy like Anthony Burger, although he is another of my favorites.

Here's Roger Bennett playing Goodbye, World, Goodbye, that SG pianist staple. (Music starts at 1:25)

Have you ever noticed that basically all SG pianists play this song the exact same way?! But that's a whole other post.

I think the reason Roger Bennett is one of my favorites is because I heard he was relatively self-taught. Because that's me right now, that's a really inspiring example. In this video, he talks about his journey to becoming a Southern Gospel pianist and gives a lesson on rhythm.

"When it seems like it's dark and lonely, and nobody really knows what you can do, God knows" That quote is one of the most encouraging things I've ever heard. I put it on a sticky note on my wall to remind me that God never forgets.

It's sad that Roger Bennett died so young, but that's all part of God's plan. Roger Bennett is one of my favorites not only because of his music style but also because of his testimony and encouragement. He's actually one of the main reasons I love the Cathedrals! But that's another post :)

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