MUSIC MINISTRY: Robinson celebrates 60 years as faithful church musician



Music Man

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Charles Robinson Sr. who has been making music in Valley churches for decades tells why music is important to him.

Charles J. Robinson Sr. has put his heart and soul into a music ministry spanning 60 years.

Though other musicians might described him as self-taught, Robinson gives the credit for his musical abilities to the greatest orchestrater, God. “God gives out gifts. He gave me the the ability to hear and feel [music],” Robinson said. He plays the organ, piano, drums and guitar.

While he might have used his musical talent for personal profit, he decided early on to concentrate on church music. “The Lord blessed me,” he said, noting he hoped his music enhanced people’s worship.

“Faith is the No. 1 reason I decided on a music ministry,” he said. He and his wife, Sherry, are members of Heavenly Place Church of God in Christ, where Superintendent Stafford Jackson is pastor. Robinson is minister of music at Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church in Struthers.

Robinson said he believes the Gospel and spiritual music he plays help people “be calm, elevates them from above and prepares them to receive the word of God.”

He said music plays a key role in worship. “It helps create oneness ... bringing people together,” Robinson said. “It signals the ‘high time’ of God’s word.”

The musician said he feels music brings worshippers together “in harmony because they share the same feeling.” Robinson said his goal is to “enjoy what I’m doing.”

“I like to feel the music then I know that they’re {those listening} are feeling it, too,” he said.

Robinson said church music aims to “lift the spirit” and “revive.” He likened music to being part of a meal — “it sets you up for the main course of God’s word.”

He noted that since music has “played a tremendous role in my life,” he wanted to share it with others. To that end, he has mentored young people in music ministry who have gone on in that field at other churches.

Robinson’s own life mirrored that scenario. “My grandmother spotted my talent,” he recalled. “She knew I could keep rhythm.” Robinson, 69, will mark his 70th birthday Aug. 4.

Beatrice James enlisted her grandson to play a bass drum at the family church in Mobile, Ala. That was the beginning. Robinson said his musical odyssey really began when he was 10 years old and played drums at his father’s church.

He has treasured the musical gift also recognized by his parents, the late Elder Jacob and Willie V. Robinson. “I remember my dad telling me I was ordained to {make music},” he said. Elder Robinson was pastor of the former Mount Mariah House of Prayer.

When Robinson took lessons, he said his teachers “were amazed at my ear.” He studied with Wilbert Ervin and Everett McCollum and also attended Youngstown State University for three years to study music.

His favorite selections are “Just Knowing Jesus” and “Eternal Life.” “I get requests for those,” he said. In another piece, “The Train,” a rendition of “This Train is Bound for Glory,” Robinson’s keyboard skill mimics a training leaving and arriving at the station. He’s penned these originals — “Trust in the Lord and Do Good” and “Jesus Makes Everything All Right.”

Robinson and the Charles Robinson Singers recorded the album “Precious Lord Take My Hand” in the 1970s when they also toured Bermuda. Alvin McCottry was manager, and singers were Janet Simon, Karen Fears, Sherry Robinson, Cynthia Hendrix and Doris Clark; two members, Gloria McCottry and Phyllis Robinson, are deceased.

In his work as a minister of music, Robinson said he believes “keeping it simple” is the way to involve more people and “having something familiar” in the music is another avenue of engaging church members.

Robinson plays the organ at worship services at Pilgrim Missionary Baptist Church and oversees the choirs. He also plays at other events such as weddings and funerals. Though he concentrates on playing the organ, he conceded “I can croon a bit.”

Sherry said her husband’s music ministry has impacted their life in a positive way because they both enjoy it. “He does have a special touch that changes the atmosphere. I’m inspired by his music.”

Robinson’s musical legacy is being carried on his family. Sherry Robinson said that her husband, their son, Charles Robinson Jr., and grandson, Charles Robinson III, recently performed at Heavenly Place.

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