Valentine St.

My good friend Michael Hicks, who is a professor of music at BYU and the author of Mormonism and Music: A History, out of the University of Illinois Press, has a new album out on BYU’s Tantara label, entitled Valentine St. Check it out, including clips, here. Tantara is best known for its choral, classical and jazz offerings; this is their first-ever singer-songwriter album. If you’re interested in Mike’s vita, you can see it here.

Mike is one of my very favorite people in the whole Church. I first met Mike when I moved to Champaign-Urbana to attend law school at the University of Illinois. I was married with a little girl, and we moved into the very spartan married student housing. Mike, who was the EQP, and his lovely wife Pam were the very first people to visit us. Just a few moments of conversation made it clear that we were kindred spirits. They lived in a nearby building, and it turns out that there was a whole group of LDS grad students nearby. I have fond memories of the kids playing in the playground and the adults gathered together, sitting on the grass and solving the world’s problems.

Mike ran the Elders Quorum, often taking the teaching reins, and I taught GD. (In the Provo ward we had just left, I taught EQ and my friend Blake Ostler taught GD. I was on quite a role with terrific instructors in those years.) He penned a charming memoir of our EQ for Sunstone, which you can read here. I well remember our quorum’s mock Polysophical Society that he describes in the essay; contrary to his recollection, Gospel Jeopardy was played after his first Sunday there, because that is where I first saw this done (and appropriated it for lessons I would teach in later years).

I could wax nostalgic, but here’s a reason to give Mike a little support. He is one of a very few professors at BYU who will write for and present at Sunstone. As you know, this takes a pair of big brass ones (pardon the vivid expression) for a BYU professor. So check out his new album, and if you like it pick up a copy.

Comments

  1. It takes very big brass ones indeed! Thanks for the tip about the new album.

  2. I could wax nostalgic, but here’s a reason to give Mike a little support. He is one of a very few professors at BYU who will write for and present at Sunstone. As you know, this takes a pair of big brass ones (pardon the vivid expression) for a BYU professor.

    Kevin,

    Do you think it is easier for Mike as a BYU prof. to present at and write for Sunstone because his discipline is musical rather than say philosophical, political or religious? He sounds like quite an accomplished person both in the Church and professionally.

  3. Kevin Barney says:

    Yeah, that’s probably part of it, Guy.

  4. And hey, while Kevin shills for the album, I say BUY THE BOOK!! It’s a brilliant bit of Mormon history and sociology, disguised as an innocent look at Mormon music. Also, it has an anecdote about a choir being mistaken for a bunch of squealing pigs that is not to be missed. The scholarship is impressive, the writing is lively and accessible…Run, don’t walk to your nearest U. of Illinois Press outlet!!

  5. I second Kristine–at BYU, a friend had a photocopy of his book’s treatment of popular music (the Deseret News’ treatment of the Beatles is priceless); the other parts of his book are at least as cool.

  6. It’s nice to see Micheal doing so much. I remember recording him for an album not too long ago for him Ritual Grounds also available at Tantara Records. His latest seems like a quirky mixture of songs with a cool bossa nova feel at times. Have not had a chance to review them all yet. Sometimes I miss the days of Provo, mostly not however.

  7. Ok, well, I guess I should get this off my chest, but why should I like that Michael hits participates in Sunstone? What is valueable or worthwhile about Sunstone? I am asking sincerely, as it has been my impression that Sunstone seems to be a forum for “pick a fight” questioning of the Church and for justifying cultural Mormonism.

    So in all Sincerity, why would this be attractive to me.

    That said, Mr. Hicks taught my Wife’s history of rock and roll class at BYU, which she loved.

  8. Am sitting here listening to Valentine Street,
    hearing everything from Tony Bennett to Mose
    Allison. This is music that you can listen to
    and learn from, lyrics that touch our secret
    hearts of life experience that we don’t share
    with everyone. You can tell he really loves his
    wife deeply, to pull these words out of his soul
    and share them with everyone. I also recall Mike
    at age four in his cowboy halloween outfit and
    his extraordinary brainpower as my youngest
    brother. Love you and proud of you Mike!

  9. Kevin Barney says:

    Hey, David, thanks for checking in here. I love your younger brother (and his wife is equally awesome).

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