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NZ Singer’s Dream – to Join a Southern Gospel Group in the US
I’m a big fan of Southern Gospel music, and for some time it’s been my hope that I might – somehow – help it develop here in Australia. So far, that hasn’t happened. But recently I received an email from Dean Roberts in New Zealand, where I come from. He’s planning to travel to the US with the aim of joining a Southern Gospel group. Fascinated, I asked if I could interview him for this website, and he kindly agreed.
* New Zealand of all places! What’s the Southern Gospel scene like in New Zealand?
There is absolutely no Southern Gospel music in New Zealand that I know of. So to pursue a career, I will need to move to the States.
* So how did you get to know the music?
I am quite new to the Southern Gospel music scene. I was singing with a group in Chicago, and, prior to returning home to NZ one of the group gave me a cassette of Christmas songs. I didn’t listen until the next Christmas, and was totally blown away by the quality of singing and the sound - especially the bass. It was The Cathedrals – their a cappella Christmas album. Since that time I have got more acquainted with the genre, especially now that we have the Gaither Homecoming series on local TV.
* What’s your own singing background?
I am a music teacher and performer and I come from a very musical family. My father had a beautiful operatic tenor voice, and my mother was a piano teacher and his accompanist. All my relatives were into music - one an opera singer, another a concert pianist, another a dance band leader. I got my training in Chicago, and started teaching music after receiving a Bachelor of Music Education degree in 1983. During that time I was introduced to four-part close-harmony singing in the barbershop style.
* What about your walk with the Lord?
I married a girl I met at university and started a family. My wife was Catholic and I was Anglican, but both lapsed during our college years. We eventually came to live in my hometown of Hastings, here in New Zealand. I got a job as Head of Music at a local high school, and Karoline taught music as an itinerant instrumental tutor. It was during this time we found the Lord and began worshipping regularly. I began directing a barbershop chorus and singing locally in a quartet. We also both got involved in the local theatre scene and between us have become musical directors for many productions.
* So what are your current plans?
Having taught now for 20 years, and being blessed with a wonderful singing voice I felt it was time to utilize it for the glory of our Lord. I have been feeling, for quite a while, that this voice was given to me for a reason and singing every now and then at church was not utilizing it to full potential. After much prayer I decided to look towards singing in a Gospel group in the US – what I would consider my ideal job. I talked it over with Karoline and our three children, and with their blessing started making enquiries.
* How’s it going?
I started by looking up Southern Gospel sites on the internet, and that is how I found you. I also listed myself in Singing News as looking for a full-time quartet to sing with. To date I have had several replies and I am corresponding with two different groups. Obviously, the distance makes it more difficult, but I know the Lord will guide me down the path He has set, or else close the doors. I am making an audition CD in the next couple of weeks and will use that to keep in touch with groups in the States.
* It all sounds exciting. I hope and pray that it works out really well.
NB: You can contact Dean at firstname.lastname@example.org
January 22nd, 2004