LOUISIANA, Mo. — What started as a small musical group at Centenary United Methodist Church has grown into a community band.
“The Bible says make a joyful noise. That’s what we do as an eclectic group of musicians,” said Sandy Henry, a retired music teacher who leads the group. “We have farmers, bankers, retired music teachers, a current band director, a dentist.”
Joyful Noise will present a March 26 fundraiser — Letters Home, a mock USO radio show featuring dinner and dancing to songs from World War II.
“We think it will be a fun evening,” said Roberta Simpson-Dolbeare, a church member who plays with Joyful Noise.
Some 25 musicians, including the church’s bell choir and area vocalists, will perform songs ranging from “Boogie Woogie Bugle Boy” and “I’ll Be Seeing You” to a medley recognizing each branch of the armed forces and “God Bless America.”
“It’s just feel-good American music,” Simpson-Dolbeare said. “Maybe that’s kind of what we need right now.”
The event will pay tribute to the men and women who have served, and currently serve, in the nation’s military, Henry said, and a portion of the proceeds will go to the USO.
Framed letters from a man to his wife over six years in wartime will be placed on each table, and instead of an emcee filling the time between songs, Henry said plans call for having wartime letters read that somehow tie into the next tune.
“We’re trying to set this at the end of the war, 1945, and recognizing these letters home as a look back to what the last five or six years were like with a little bit of tear-jerking but also a lot of laughter,” Henry said. “Young people don’t know these songs but will get addicted to the rhythm and the enthusiasm, plus it’s an opportunity for us to recognize the services.”
It’s also an opportunity for the musicians — who first came together some four years ago to play carols outside prior to the church’s Christmas Eve service and grew to include people from other churches and the community — to make music.
“A lot of people used to enjoy playing an instrument in high school or college. Life takes over, the instrument goes to the back of the closet, but they still remember how to play and still want to play. Joyful Noise gives them that outlet,” Henry said. “Everybody’s welcome, whether you play really well or not so well.”