Rebecca Rempher McCurdy
Rebecca McCurdy is a singer who frequently performs as a soloist in churches throughout the Midwest and South. An alto, she has recorded two CDs and sung on 3ABN (Three Angels Broadcasting Network), where she sang a duet with Julie Penner, a music professor at Southern Adventist University, in 1998. While living in the university community, McCurdy has frequently joined with Penner in singing duets and on one occasion assisted her in a recital at SAU. In April 2001, she was the alto soloist in an SAU presentation of Mendelssohn's Elijah.
In January 2005, the family lost their eight-year old daughter, Clarissa, in an automobile accident. In her grief, McCurdy found comfort through playing the piano and singing hymns. In August, she felt impressed to record those hymns that had provided her with the greatest comfort, as well as one she had composed . A short time later, during a visit to SAU, she recorded a CD titled He Giveth Songs in the Night. Its success led to a number of invitations to sing and a subsequent Christmas CD, which was released in 2006.
McCurdy was born into a family where music was an important part of life. Both of her parents had come from musical families, and her childhood was filled with music, her mother playing piano and singing, her father and brother playing their violins, and her sister joining with her in singing or playing the clarinet.
Her first public singing experience was at age four at an evangelistic meeting. Later, her eighth grade teacher encouraged McCurdy to sing and had her and her classmates sing frequently in churches. When she attended Little Creek Academy for her high school years, her musical horizons expanded as she studied voice, piano, organ, cello, and handbells, and played percussion instruments in the band. In her sophomore year she toured with the LCA bell choir in Europe and, in her junior year, she gave a voice recital.
At the end of that year, she took a GED and, in 1985, entered SAU, where she was encouraged to pursue a voice major and a career in music. Although she sang in the choirs and took voice lessons, she elected instead to major in home economics. Even though she did not major or minor in music, she was encouraged to give a senior voice recital, which she did, accompanied by Bruce Ashton, a music professor at SAU.
Following graduation from SAU in 1987, she married James McCurdy and remained in the Collegedale area, where she continued to be involved in music, often singing in area churches.
In 2003, James began working as a part-time pastor in Ohio. They are planning on working in full-time ministry in the near future, in which Rebecca can also assist with an expanded ministry in music.
Source: Information provided by Rebecca McCurdy, 2007.
Music in My Life
Both of my parents come from musically talented families. My mother is the only girl in a family of seven brothers. They all sang together for many years and my uncles (the Fish Brothers) made a record together when they were in college. In fact, I am the little girl in the family picture on the back of their album!
My father’s family was also musical, and I am told that my grandmother had a voice very similar to mine when she was young. Growing up, some of my dearest memories are of my mom singing and playing the piano, my dad and brother playing their violins, and my sister and I singing or playing our clarinets.
My mother says I was singing tunes before I could talk. There was always music in our home. I remember listening to the Voice of Prophecy and loved to hear Del Delker sing. One of my childhood ambitions was to sing for the VOP someday like Del Delker! My dad enjoyed listening to Tennessee Ernie Ford, George Beverly Shea, Sunny Liu, and the Barren brothers and we would beg him to put those records on to go to sleep by, especially on Friday nights.
My first recollection of singing in front of an audience was at an evangelistic series my uncle and aunt were helping out with. My cousin (age 3) and I (age 4) stood on the edge of the platform and sang I’ll be a Sunbeam for Jesus. Since that time, this has been the desire of my life, to sing for Jesus.
My eighth grade teacher encouraged me to sing solos and also got several of the girls in my classroom together to sing trios, duets, and small group numbers. We sang at several churches during that year. We also had a band and I played clarinet and took lessons from Randy Cox, who was our director. He also introduced me to the marimba and to playing percussion instruments. This strengthened my confidence and desire for more training and group singing and activities.
When I went to Little Creek Academy to begin my academy years, I auditioned for Sarah Anne McNeilus and became her voice student. I also studied piano and organ under Mrs. Alice Straw and took cello lessons from Prof. Leland Straw. I was very thankful for the opportunity to play clarinet, bass clarinet, and percussion in the band.
During my sophomore year, I joined the bell-choir under Sarah Anne McNeilus and at the end of the school year we toured England, Scotland and Wales for two weeks. What a thrill to play our bells in some of those marvelously acoustical cathedrals! While at Little Creek Academy, I had the privilege of giving a voice recital my junior year.
I took my GED and entered Southern Missionary College, now Southern Adventist University, in the spring of 1985 to major in home economics. However, I still had a deep love for music and joined the Chamber Singers under the direction of Don Runyan and sang in the choir under the direction of Marvin Robertson.
I began taking private voice lessons from Leila Ashton and she helped me tremendously to hone the skills God had given me. She urged me to take a voice major and to aim for a professional career. But I wanted to sing sacred music and I felt that devoting my life to a musical career would also pull me away from my burning desire to sing for Christ. Even though I majored in home economics, I was urged to give a vocal recital in my senior year, which I happily did with Dr. J. Bruce Ashton as my accompanist.
After graduating from Southern in 1987, I married James (Jim) McCurdy and we settled down in the Collegedale area and started a family. I continued to sing at many of the area churches for special music and sang at the Georgia-Cumberland Camp meeting two different years.
I also had the privilege and delight of singing many duets with Julie Penner, a voice teacher at SAU. In 1998 we recorded a duet for 3ABN. She also invited me to sing with her in a recital she gave at SAU and with the orchestra at the annual dinner concert. She was also instrumental in opening the way for me to sing the alto solos in Mendelssohn’s Elijah in April of 2001.
While I was practicing for the solo parts at home, my 3-year old boy, Russel, drank it all in. I did not realize how much he was enjoying or memorizing the music until my seven children and I were in Wal-Mart one day. All the children were walking or hanging onto the cart when Russel belted out, right on key, part of the soprano solo; "See mine affliction; be thou the orphan’s helper…"! Of course, my older children were dying of embarrassment and I was in a quandary as to how to shush him without discouraging his love of music!
On January 30th, 2005, we were in a fatal automobile accident in which we lost our eight year old daughter, Clarissa. I did not know a person could be so numb and yet hurt so badly all at the same time. During the next six months, there were many times when the only comfort I could find was to sit down at the piano and play hymns and cry. Then early one morning in August, I woke up with the definite impression to write down the titles of songs that had been a comfort to me during our sorrow and to prepare to make a CD.
I prayed, "Lord, you know we have no money and no way to make a recording. But if this is what you want me to do you will have to open the way for this to happen." Praise God, He is faithful and knows how to work things out in marvelous ways. Two weeks later, we made a trip to Southern Adventist University to visit my parents. I practiced every morning that week with Susan Miller, a very gifted pianist in the Collegedale area who has accompanied me over the years, and we made the recording in four hours, which, to all of us, was a miracle.
We called the CD He Giveth Songs in the Night. Nathan Zinner was the producer and did a wonderful job. David Brooks, manager of WSMC, and Yolanda Burris from the music department at SAU made it possible for us to use Ackerman Auditorium in the music facility and encouraged us to make the recording. I will be eternally grateful to all of them, but especially to Jesus Christ who made it all possible.
Since then, the Lord has opened doors for us to do concerts in many places around the country. My husband or children sometimes sing with me. Wherever I go to share what Christ has done for me during this tragedy, I have found other hurting hearts who have found comfort and courage through the message of the music I share for Jesus. In 2006, we made a second recording of Christmas music titled Immanuel – God with Us. Unfortunately, the CD’s were slow in being copied and were not ready for that Christmas season.
My husband has one more class to complete toward his degree, and we are looking for full-time employment in ministry. The Lord keeps us busy doing Biblical counseling, Bible studies and visitation. We also have a special burden for those who have backslidden or are discouraged. I home school the six children who are still at home. Alicia is 16 ½, Kristen is 15, James is 13, Russel is 9 ½, Samuel is 7 ½, and Susanna is 4. Our oldest son, Michael, is 18 ½ and has moved away from home.