Friday, February 10, 2012

David M. Roth

Folk singer David M. Roth performed at the White House. Artist Ed Sanderson stood in the corner and did a quick impasto landscape painting as David played. Ed was one of the first visual artists to paint live at the White House and he had returned several times. Davids mellow tunes all had uplifting hope filled lyrics. What made the performance special for me was the way he wove his family history into monologues between his music. His father came to this country to make a better life for his family and he had hopes that his son would one day be a success as a doctor or lawyer. David did find success doing something he loved and sharing that love of music with others.

David was asked to perform at a NASA conference and he suggested in an off hand way that he could write a song especially for the occasion. Months passed and he forgot about the promise, but the organizer called him right before the conference to let him know how excited she was to hear his song. He panicked but just happened across an article about Sputnik, the first Soviet satellite. That mysterious orb sent fear into every American heart and the space race began. His inspired song pointed out that if future explorations were fueled by love rather than fear, then we could accomplish anything.

A race to the furthest star
A race to the galaxies above
If a little bit of fear can go so far
Imagine what a world could do with love

The song he wrote was later taken into space by a shuttle astronaut. When he told his father the amazing news, that his music was orbiting the earth, his father asked, "So how much does that put in your pocket?"

Later when his father was sick and in Hospice care, David would sit bedside and play his music for him. His father wasn't very responsive, slipping in and out of consciousness. As David was leaving hospice with his sister, he suddenly had a feeling he had to return and speak with his father. He asked, "Are you aware that I have been playing music for you?" His fathers eyes flickered open and he said, "Yes, it is beautiful." Rob was a bit choked up as he said, "That was the only time he acknowledged that he liked my music." A few days later, his father died. When Rob thinks of his dad, he always has that moment to treasure.