SULPHUR, La. (AP) - Father Edward James Richard, pastor of Our Lady of Prompt Succor church, enjoys playing banjo when he is not busy with his priestly duties. He said people are curious to know about a priest who plays the banjo.
Father Richard comes from a musical family. His mother played guitar and some of his other relatives played music. “The family got me started at playing the guitar before I can even remember.”
“I do remember trying to get my little hands around the neck of a guitar when I was pretty small.”
He said he stuck with it over the years and learned to play the banjo by teaching himself. He also plays the bass and the mandolin.
He said the experience of music brings him a lot of peace and joy and relaxation. “Playing music for me is a real form of communication, sometimes prayer.”
Father Richard occasionally plays with the choir during Mass. He also wrote some music for a parish in Bristol, Virginia.
His style is traditional bluegrass and he also plays some contemporary bluegrass. “I’m kind of like the back porch picker.”
Father Richard’s musical influences include Bill Monroe (the father of bluegrass), Ralph Stanley and his brother Carter, Lester Flatt, Earl Scruggs, J.D. Crowe, and Butch Robbins. Another influence, John “Red” Corbin, was a local banjo player.
He believes that his interest in music helped him to develop his spiritual life and helped direct him in his relationship with God. “Even though bluegrass seems like a far cry from Catholic music, I do believe that bluegrass gospel music was part of the influence that helped me find my way into the seminary.”
Father Richard played at bluegrass festivals before he entered the seminary. “My friends and I would go to these festivals and sometimes we would camp out there and play all night.”
He has played in a lot of places and has written music. He was once asked to go and play in New Zealand after someone heard his music on internet radio. He has also played in Italy, France, and Mexico. He recorded a soundtrack for a railroad tycoon video game.
His song titles include “Holy Mountain Breakdown,” ”East Tennessee Blues,” ”Do Whatever He Tells You,” and “The Hills of Rome,” the first banjo tune he wrote and recorded while he was working on his Doctorate in Moral Theology in Rome.
Father Richard would like to put on a bigger bluegrass show in the area. “We’re always looking for musicians. You can email me at reved? email@example.com,” ? he said.
Father Richard played on a recent Sunday at the church’s Family Fest. People enjoyed dancing to the tunes of bluegrass and his banjo.
“I think he’s a very pious man. We love our priests. He’s the best banjo player I’ve ever seen,” said Copeland Duhon of Sulphur.
Don Scarborough, his wife Cathy, and Audry Salvador, also of Sulphur, said “We love Father Richard. He’s an awesome priest. We love his music. We come and hear him play every chance we get.”
“I always liked his music. I come just to listen to him,” said Sulphur resident Dionese Carpenter.
Father Richard’s music can be found on amazon, iTunes, cdbaby.com, or holymountainbluegrass.com.
Information from: American Press, https://www.americanpress.com
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