WHEN YOU FIND YOUR NICHE STOP LOOKING I was born March 16, 1940, in Little Rock, Arkansas to Rev. James and Rosa McKissic. At the age of three, I began playing the piano. I would come home from church on Sundays and out of the five or six songs they would sing, I would pick out the one I loved with one finger fishing around on the piano until I found the key it was played in. When my mother realized I was talented she would stand behind me and say, “Baby, don’t hit the keys; don’t bang the keys but stroke them.” She would then show me how to stroke the keys. My mother nurtured my piano playing until I was thirteen. She had me to memorize the lines and spaces so I would be able to read music and not only play by ear. She would remind me from time to time God had given me a gift and I was to use it to His glory by giving Him my best and not to show off. As I began to read music better, my mother sent me to Mrs. Scott, a piano teacher in the neighborhood who was known to discipline her students by pecking them on the fingers with a pencil when they played the wrong notes. After learning hymns with Mrs. Scott for about a year, Mama felt it was time for me to move on. When I turned thirteen, Mama sent me to study with Mrs. Kirby, another local piano teacher but who taught Beethoven and more classical music than hymns. Mrs. Kirby was great because she sat by the piano and read the local Pine Bluff Commercial and only corrected wrong notes. She did not try to make me who she wanted me to be. I studied with her until I finished high school. It was the discipline of having to learn a new piece by next week which was good about studying with Mrs. Kirby. I entered Arkansas Mechanical and Normal College now the University of Arkansas at Pine Bluff. I majored in music. My professor was an organ major and he assigned me a lot of Bach. It was also in keeping with my mother’s guidance. When I finished college, I auditioned at Julliard and the Manhattan School of Music and was not accepted at either. I then enrolled in graduate school at the University of California at Berkley and studied with Marjorie Petray. She enlarged my repertoire and encouraged me to go to Europe and study with the great teachers there. While at UC Berkeley, my talents and education were recognized and I taught Chamber Music in the department. In 1969, the opportunity to study in Geneva Switzerland came by winning the competitive Hertz Scholarship. At the completion of that time of study, I moved to Paris, France and search for the right teacher for me. In October 1983, I was introduced to Pierre Sarcane from the Conservatory in Paris. I auditioned for him by playing “Twinkle Twinkle Little Star”. When I finished he said, “You are a born musician and you do not need me or anyone else. Everything you need is within you and it is up to you to get it out.” I made my debut in Carnegie Hall in New York, February 18, 1986. One of the pieces I played was the “Carnaval” of Schumann. The New York Times critic wrote “Carnaval has been played more correctly but seldom with such character.” As I continued uncovering the great pianist God created me to be, God was speaking directly to me through the Holy Scriptures. I was led to three scriptures that have given me courage, strength, faith, hope, trust and obedience to be the great classical pianist God created me to be. 1. Delight yourself in the Lord and He will give you the desires of your heart. Psalms 37:4. 2. For there is nothing hidden that shall not be revealed. There are no secrets which will not come to light. Mark 4: 22. 3. In all your ways acknowledge Him and He will direct your path. Proverbs 3:6. Here are a few experiences God allowed me to have in order to uncover the great musician He created me to be. • Played piano and organ in churches in Arkansas, California, Switzerland, France and Thailand. • Lecturer in Music Department, University of California, Berkeley, 2 years. • Taught at International School, Geneva Switzerland, 2 years • Assistant to the pastor at The American Church in Paris in charge of young adults, 2 years. • Presented in debut in Carnegie Hall, 1986 • Rented Carnegie Hall 26 times and invited everyone as my guest. • Played in hotel bars/restaurants for 40 years, playing in the Hotel Martinez, Canne, France 25 yrs. As I found out from the above experiences this is not what I want to do, I was led to give a hymn and gospel concert in Carnegie Hall, March 28, 2004. I thought, “I am supposed to do that.” It was a very inspiring concert and when I returned to Cannes, God told me I was not a singer. Wow! What a relief. When I would be practicing piano, I thought I should be practicing voice and vice versus. I am now a free man. I have found my niche and that is piano. “Focus on your piano. When you find your niche, stop looking.” Thank you, McKissic Family, all nine of my sisters and brothers for your support in producing this CD. Thank you, Freda, my sister and her husband, Lee Bush for arranging in every way for me to record this God inspired music of Schumann. Thank you, Irene Wlodarski from Steinway Hall in New York for telling my sister where the Steinway D-490 was. I wanted to record on it. For the vision is yet for an appointed time, but at the end it shall speak and not lie. Though it tarry, wait for it, because it will surely come. It will not tarry. Habakkuk 2:3.
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