Tuesday, June 07, 2011

Remembering Harold Lane

Since I heard of his passing this morning, I've spent a lot of the day remembering Harold Lane.

Many Gospel fans will remember Harold as a songwriter, arranger, and member of The Speer Family. But like many of my friends, I'm remembering a Stamps-Baxter essential.

In 2005, I attend the Stamps-Baxter singing school for the first time. There was an older gentleman who sat at the back of group singing. He didn't say much, but people treated him with a lot of respect. I only knew his name was Harold, and people called him H.

When Ben heard one of my songs, he pulled me aside and said, "H isn't teaching anymore, but he's a great arranger. Would you mind asking him to arrange your song? I'd really appreciate it."

Who was I to say no to Ben Speer?

So that afternoon, I found Mr. Lane and asked him to arrange my song. He looked at it and asked why I didn't just arrange it myself. I told him I didn't know how.

And that was the tipping point.

He told me to sit down, open my notebook, and grab a pencil. Over the next hour, Mr. Lane began teaching me how to write 4-part harmony. For the rest of the school, I met with him for an hour a day for private harmony classes. To say it was amazing was an understatement.

On one particular day, I brought along a book called "The 100 Greatest Gospel Songs" that I was going to use for my voice lesson later that day. Mr. Lane picked it up and said, "I wonder if I have any songs in this?"

I thought, "Is this guy serious?"

The book contained not one, but two of his songs.

To look at Mr. Lane that year, you saw an old man. Every part of him - physically, spiritually, mentally - seemed to move slower than the world around him.

But when he taught, a young, vibrant musician appeared. The transformation was almost magical, and always wonderful.

Over my time at Stamps-Baxter, I got to learn more about Harold Lane - the man and the musical legend - but my most treasured memories will always be those hours when he taught a young singer how to write harmony.

Enjoy heaven, Mr. Lane.

One of my favourite Harold Lane songs,
performed during a Stamps-Baxter closing program.


Shawn Degenhart said...

H was my first songwriting teacher at Stamps-Baxter in 1998. When I asked him about the inspiration for "I'm Standing on the Solid Rock," he said, "I just wrote it." That was him--simple and straightforward. I'll never forget the opportunity a few of us had last year at the singing school to go and sing to him and other residents at the nursing home. As we sang "Touring That City," his feeble foot began to tap and he tried to raise his arms as if directing us. What a great memory!

Judy said...

I have been blessed by being Harold Lane's youngest daughter. To me, he is the best man I have ever known. Tonight I decided to do a little searching for a few things to add to the memory tables we will set up for visitation and I have been reading so many articles from different sites. I knew Dad was very well thought of in the gospel music field, but I have to convey when reading your blog, tears came to me. I remember the year you refer to. We all knew that Dad's days of teaching at the school were most likely over and were terribly sad about it. He enjoyed that so much and always talked about the students and how great they were. Please know that the time you spent with him brought him much joy.

And to Shawn Degenhard, I regret that due to conflicts in my own schedule I missed the singing at the nursing home. Thank you so much for going. Dad missed the music world so much and I know he enjoyed every song.

Allison Lynn said...

Shawn, I love your memories! I remember Kay talking about your visit to the nursing home last summer, and wishing I could have been there with you all.

Judy, I'm so sorry for your loss, and I'm also so glad you're finding all these wonderful memories of your father! Please know that you are being prayed for by so many people right now!


Anonymous said...

I have been blessed by being the oldest daughter of Harold Lane, and he was the best man I have ever known too. I ditto everything my sister says. I'm not one to talk alot... I'm more like Daddy ... off in the background or to the side, listening and watching.