“There’s within my heart a melody Jesus whispers sweet and low...,” as the old hymn goes, and that sentiment certainly seems to illustrate Patrice Parker’s life story over the past decade.
“It came so easy and I know Jesus sent it to me. I don’t profess to be a great songwriter or anything like that but I know he gave it to me,” the former radiographer said earnestly.
Parker of Bainbridge, who was born and raised in Moultrie, has published books to illustrate two of her inspirational songs. She found Betsy Heath, the illustrator for her books, by sending out emails and she said she is very happy with the images Heath created for her songs. One of these songs is “All the World, A Christmas Lullaby,” which tells the story of Jesus Christ, and the other one is “Give Me,” which she said was inspired by loved ones who were battling cancer.
“It’s images of peace,” she said of the lyrics and illustrations, which include images like a cool drink of water, a warm gentle smile, a setting sun and a hug from her 5-year old niece.
She said she had been thinking that there was really nothing that she could give them that would help and the song came to her. However, she firmly believes, that Jesus would be the one who could bring them peace.
“I’ve been writing and playing since 2000,” she said.
She got started playing the guitar because years ago she had bought one for her husband, Mark, also a Moultrie native, hoping he would “pick it up.” He didn’t.
“And I picked it up,” she said.
She said that after trying, she thought to herself, “I don’t know how people play these things. It’s really difficult.”
She put it down and then, later on, she said, she got a feeling that she could do more.
“This is true. I felt like there’s something more,” she said.
She called a college and spoke with an instructor about teaching her chords for the piano — Parker had taken lessons when she was younger. The instructor told her there was nothing more she could teach her. She would just have to practice. Then, she asked her if she had ever thought about the guitar. It had been five or seven years since she had first picked up her husband’s guitar and tried to play it. “The second time I picked it up, it was so easy. I was playing ‘Amazing Grace’ by the end of the day,” she said.
She said the first song she wrote, “Look to the Sky,” came to her when she was visiting her aunt who was also battling cancer at the time.
“She got to hear it a week before she passed and she loved it,” said Parker with just a touch of emotion in her voice.
For this songwriter and singer, music needs to be simple because that’s what she prefers to hear.
“I like music you can understand the words. I guess I look for a message in the song,” she said, which seems apropos since in her lyrics she strives to relay a positive message to her audience.
Her music features her on her acoustic guitar and some harmonica, which a friend encouraged her to pick up. Maybe a little bit of bass is added to her songs, she said, but deep down, she just wants to keep it simple instead of adding all of the other instruments.
However, she said, for the most part she loves all kinds of music and when asked who she admired, she said without hesitation, the late Eva Cassidy, an American vocalist who sang jazz, blues, folk, gospel and country.
“A friend of mine introduced me to her music. She was just no frills, no lights. She was just a wonderful musician — if one stands out in my mind. I love her music,” she said.
She also added that she thought Dolly Parten’s story was really inspirational and that she and her husband also love Celtic Woman. They have seen a performance of this show in person, and she said the Irish and Celtic sound was one that she really liked.
In 2010, Parker compiled a gospel inspirational CD with ten of her original songs and ten covers. It and the books can be found at several locations including the Main Tamer in Bainbridge, Three Diamonds Bookstore in Blakely, Lion Chasers in Tifton, the Gorgeous Goose in Adel and Pat’s Place in Moultrie.
“I have not really had opportunities until these books,” she said.
Parker, who worked in mammography for the past ten years, said she was out of the medical field now and was focusing on her family and her music.
She said she has written more songs since the first CD and will be putting together another one in the future. She would also like to work with her illustrator again and publish another book, she said.
Another thing she would like to do is perform more, in different venues, including churches, so that she can share her inspirational music. She can be reached at 229-400-3304.
“I’d like my music to go broader. Reach a broader audience. But it’s up to Him,” she said.