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After 16 years the time has come…

Eddie-RobethisoneAfter 16 years the time has come…

“The best time to leave the stage is while people are still clapping.”  — Min. Eddie Robinson

By Bobby R. Henry, Sr.

      “To everything there is a season, a time for every purpose under heaven.”- Ecclesiastes 3:1 If ever there is a scripture that is befitting of departures as they pertain to the Ministers of Music at the New Mount Olive Baptist Church (NMOBC) in Fort Lauderdale, Fla., this one certainly applies. Minister of Music, Eddie Robinson, will be moving on after 16 years of delivering some of the most soul stirring gospel music in the history of the church.

Four of the NMOBC Ministers of Music have a history of serving the church combined for most of 80 plus years. Dr. Alfred Pinkston served for over 40 years; Mrs. Alma Lewis served for over 23 years; Robinson has over 16 years and Ms. Shirley Bell directed the Children’s Choir for 37 years.

“I came to New Mount Olive on Feb. 2, 1999. I came as a result of an invitation of Dr. Mack King Carter, who recruited me from Atlanta. He was interested in getting one of my mentors, Dr. Jimmy Abbington to come, but Dr. Abbington recommended me.  Dr. Carter called me on July 4, 1998 and we had an almost three-hour conversation inviting me to come work with the choir in September,” said Min. Robinson.

It appears that music has always been a focal point in Robinson’s life and one can feel and see this in his approach in delivering his talents.

Robinson continued, “As a child growing up in South Carolina, I knew I would be doing music. At the age of 12 when I began playing for my first church but I never had any idea that I would be doing it on this scale.

“My grandmother was the force that drew me to gospel. She insisted that we go to Sun-day school and church every Sunday and would not allow us to sing “the Blues” in her house.  From an early age, I developed a love for church and singing.”

Robinson’s talents were not limited to the choir stands on Sundays and it is obvious that this development took several influences to create.

Moses Barnes, a member of Mount Olive Men’s Choir spoke of Robinson’s diverse talents, “Min. Robinson transformed the male chorus from a fifth Sunday singing group to a regular scheduled group each month.

“For many of us who were not gifted singers but more of background singers, Min. Robinson provided encouragement and training that allowed the male chorus to grow from a group of about 15-20 males to about 30-40. He also allowed many of the members to become more proficient in their individual singing talent. He even established a uniform dress code for our group.”

“The male chorus may have been one of the smaller singing groups at Mount Olive but he treated us with the same training and professional care as he did with his signature singing groups.  Min. Robinson has a great since of humor which made all the group members feel welcomed and relaxed at rehearsal sessions. He has been a key asset to the growth and development of the male chorus and we will surely miss him.”

Robinson is seen like an octopus with so many different abilities, one would need as many tentacles.

“I was influenced by people I met down through the years as a part of the National Convention of Gospel Choirs and Choruses. I’ve been attending for 32 years. My childhood friend, Richard Odom, who is a professor at the University of D.C.  encouraged me to attend.  His high school music teacher, Rosemary Griffin was the person who took me to the convention at the age of 13. I grew up in the convention founded by the Father of Gospel Music, Dr. Thomas Dorsey. From there, my gifts (songwriting, singing, directing) were developed and as a result I’ve been afforded opportunities that are unimaginable considering I came from a small town in SC of less than 3,000 people.

“Reflecting over the past five years that Minister Robinson has served with me, I found him to have a passion for music ministry.  Some people in his position are driven by dollars, but he has always been driven by the Divine.

He has one of the most unique perspectives for worship in our era.  He is able to take you to the lofty places of music in worship with an anthem, but within moments he can take you to church with a traditional gospel song with a contemporary flare.  It is without question that Minister Robinson has his pulse on what biblical worship is and the value of theologically sound music in the African American church.

“The gift that Minister Robinson has for worship and music is not one that is often found in the contemporary church today.  He will continue to make a mark in ministry and music for the Master!  The New Mount Olive Baptist Church can rejoice that God allowed him to leave an indelible mark on the minds of many in ministry at our church.  We bid him god speed in the days to come and wish him bountiful blessings as he continues to do the work of the Lord in another vineyard. I say to him; “Serve on Servant until the Lord says well done!”-Pastor Marcus D. Davidson.

Not departing from his southern roots, Minister Robinson continues his laid back Southern demeanor. Born in Williston, SC., Robinson still likes to fish and collect old gospel music memorabilia. He received his Bachelor of Arts degree in Music from the University of South Carolina, his Master of Arts Degree in Worship Studies from Liberty University and he is currently pursuing a Doctorate in Worship Studies from Liberty University.

Shirley Rose Howard, NMOBC’s receptionist, has known Robinson for all of his tenure at the church and has developed a relationship that extends beyond his musical contributions.

Howard says, “I have known Minister Robinson for over 16 years and it has been a treat. I have had the pleasure to see him grow in his music ministry and in his knowledge of the Ministry. His impact on my life has been his ability to help me to see scripture better and how to apply it to my life. When we think of his leaving from a biblical point, God is not hand cuffed. He has someone over in Broward General in the nursery to take over. One thing that we won’t look for is another Minister Robinson because God only makes one of us. He will be certainly missed but God will send us someone.”

Being 16 years in one place certainly has its days of joys as well as moments of pain and NMOBC is no exception.

Robinson reflects on some of those times that made him smile and also cause some discomfort.

“I’ve had so many high moments at Mount Olive that I don’t know where to start. A major high for me was having one of my songs printed in the National Baptist Hymnal. My song, “SOMEBODY HERE NEEDS A BLESSING” was chosen for the convention’s hymnal. This was historic on many levels because the convention had not printed a hymnal in almost 100 years. A low moment was hearing of Dr. Carter’s retirement. It was difficult because I knew that an era that I was a part of was ending.

“There are too many to mention, but I’m reminded of my funniest moments. It was recording of the classic hit, SINGING HALLELUJAH ALL DAY. Dr. Carter did a narration on the song A WONDERFUL TIME TO WORSHIP.  We wore new robes the night of the re-cording. The robe company did not indicate which robe was my robe and which one was Dr. Carter’s.  Prior to going on stage to start the second half of the recording, I was summoned to Dr. Carter’s office only to find him about to burst every button off of the robe he was wearing.  Immediately, we discovered the mix up. It provided so much needed comedic relief that night.”

It doesn’t take a rocket science to know that the music ministry is made up of more than one person, no matter how good they might be.

The musicians that have played under your directions were tremendous in their own right-what do you feel was your contribution to their continued success? “I taught many of them discipline and structure. With the vast number of choirs and extensive song repertoire, they had to learn how to discipline themselves and be ready to recall a lot of music.”

It doesn’t take a rocket science to know that the music ministry is made up of more than one person, no matter how good they might be.

The musicians that have played under your directions were tremendous in their own right-what do you feel was your contribution to their continued success? “I taught many of them discipline and structure. With the vast number of choirs and extensive song repertoire, they had to learn how to discipline themselves and be ready to recall a lot of music.”

What instructions would you leave for your successor? “Do as I did when I came to New Mount Olive, learn the culture of the church, the community and build on it. I’ve left a great program and all they will need to do is build on it. Love the pastor, love the people, but more importantly love God and allow pleasing Him to motivate your ministry.”

There are those of us who want to be remembered once we have left a place and Robinson is no different.

“I want to be remembered as a faithful church musician; one who was a servant to New Mount Olive and the Greater Fort Lauderdale Community.

“I’ve been blessed to serve two outstanding pastors here at NMOBC. My prayers are for the continued success of NMOBC as they follow God’s chosen leader, Dr. Marcus Davidson. God has blessed us to record four recordings that have been nationally acclaimed. Our last recording was nominated for Seven Rhythm of Gospel of Awards. The choir and I will join together once more in July at the awards show in Birmingham, Ala. While I may be leaving South Florida, NMOBC and Fort Lauderdale will always be a part of my life.”

Where is Robinson going and what is in store for him? He has already begun to set in motion his plans.

“I will be serving as Minister of Music at one of Atlanta metropolitan area’s best kept secrets, Springfield Baptist Church in Conyers, Ga. where Eric W. Lee is the Pastor. This church founded by slaves in 1879 has grown to mega church status with nearly 7,000 members. I am charged with building a program of music and worship there similar to what the Lord led me to do here.

“I expect that God will do with me there, what He has done with me here. The 3,000 plus seat sanctuary will definitely be a great platform to build a program that will bring glory to God and be a model for the nation as NMOBC has been. I am making plans to continue my recording pedigree by recording my eighth and Springfield’s first recording during this summer. We will be doing a LIVE CD AND DVD called Christmas in July.

Many of us would like to have a say in who should replace us and history echoes a many whispering rumors that say, “I told you so.”

“I am praying for and identifying potential candidates. I must admit that in this day and time, the clientele is limited. NMOBC is such a melting pot and the musical tastes are very diverse. Much of my success here came as a result of my ability to do a “decent” job balancing the contemporary and traditional worship idioms. I will not have a say so per se in naming who replaces me, but will give my professional and spiritual insight as needed.”

Roz Woods, long time choir member, expresses fondly, “In 2006 I enjoyed the variety of songs the choir sang…gospels, anthems, spirituals, etc. I sang in the concert choir at Talladega College and appreciated balanced, quality tone. Minister Robinson delivered that tone. I wanted to be a part of that.  He never settles for mediocrity. I love the fact that he pushed us to deliver our best to the Glory of God! He’s a musical genius…talented, anointed, and appointed with a great sense of humor. I will miss him dearly!!

Many people are haunted by their last place of employment; some are not so familiar and unpleasant.

“I just sense that it’s time to move on. I have a need to continue growing and developing. As I transition, I am hearing the voice of God reminding me that what He has given me cannot be bound by geography and time. He has given me a gift to be shared with the nation.  This transition is God’s way of getting me closer to His ultimate destiny for my life.”

Matthew Bradford, chairman of the Ministry of Directors at NMOBC pretty much sums up the feelings of the church as it relate to Robinson’s departure. “Rev. Eddie Robinson is a phenomenal talent and has been an invaluable asset to the Mount Olive family during his years of service. I appreciate all that he was blessed to accomplish with our Music Ministry and am grateful for our friendship. Although I’m not happy to see him leave, I am indeed proud of him and I look forward to seeing what God has in store for him in the future. “

     Minister Robinson’s final farewell concert is scheduled for March 15th starting at 5 p.m., at the New Mount Olive Baptist Church, 400 Northwest Ninth Avenue Fort Lauderdale, FL 33311

 

 

 

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