When Nelson Varcoe was a young boy at Point Pearce Mission, Yorke Peninsula, on hot summer nights he would roam far from the camp-fires, the voices of his Uncles singing old Gospel songs echoed across the landscape.
Nelson has been singing and composing ever since he was twelve, when he cobbled together his first guitar, salvaging strings from the choke cables of an old Model-T-Ford. Now Gift of Music, his first collection of twenty-five original ‘God-inspired’ songs has been published and is available for people of every culture to learn, enjoy and share.
Nelson has dedicated this collection to people who mentored him in his faith: Aboriginal Christian Pioneers who travelled all across this country on the smell of an oily rag, to bring the Gospel to our People. The country-gospel style ensures singable melodies, easy-move rhythms and memorable lyrics that take us into prayer, praise, reflection and proclamation about the wonder of God in our lives.
The Gift of Music project has been completed during the COVID-19 lockdown! Songs recorded by Peter Hacquoil were transcribed from the CD by Margaret Gunn using Sibelius Ultimate – a manuscript writing program. The melody lines, guitar chords and full text of words are provided as well as the CD, making the songs accessible to everyone regardless of their musical training.
An original painting that Nelson gifted to his son, is reproduced on the front cover. There is a list of Bible passages referenced in many of the songs, some biographical notes about Nelson and a Foreword by Rev Dean Whittaker of Adelaide Congress Ministry, where Nelson has been Pastor and Worship Leader since 2004.
Jesus said, ‘I am the true vine, and my Father is the vine-dresser. Every branch in me that bears no fruit he cuts away, and every branch that does bear fruit he prunes, to make it bear even more.’ (John 15:1–2)
Let me try to sum it up and describe it in this way. Beginner’s mind is a readiness to always be in awe, to always be excited. We see it in children and in people who don’t filter everything through the brain. Beginner’s mind is one’s mind before the hurts of life have made us cautious and self-protective.
A classic gathered community of relatives and friends, grieving together, illuminates the humanity that binds us all. Grieving and sorrowing also disturbs our perspective – brokenness and blame, belief and benevolence.