Remembering Mr. Hooper, My Church Musician

Harold M. Hooper was a musical genius.  For 39 years, he served as the Minister of Music at Third Baptist Church of Chicago, a prominent congregation on the city's South Side.  During his time, he became known as "Mr. Hooper"-- the man who could get folks in the spirit with his selection of traditional gospel songs.

Last Monday, Mr. Hooper passed away at the age of 74. In a year where my favorite musicians have expired (Prince, Lecresia Campbell, Daryl Coley, and now Joe Ligon), the news of Mr. Hooper's death left me with "the blues". However, my personal memories of his work have served as a postlude. 

In 1996, I saw that firsthand as a prospective member of Third Baptist Church. My parents were considering joining, so we started visiting.  One thing was for sure: Mr. Hooper could start playing a song and many would erupt in very loud shouts of praise. As a 12-year-old boy at that time, I was startled by the noisy response-- but also intrigued at the gift of the man "on the organ". (Depending on the song, he would also play the piano.) 

In the late 1990s, I was a teenager when Mr. Hooper recruited me to sing with the Men's Day choir. I was hesitant at first because I'm not the greatest singer. Yet, Mr. Hooper worked with all of us (ages 15 to 80) to be the best singers possible. 

For Mr. Hooper, the music continues in the hearts of his choir members. Now, he's singing a song in Heaven to the one who gave him his gift.

He will be missed.


Thursday, December 15, 2016
 9:30 a.m. - Wake
10:30 a.m.- Funeral

Third Baptist Church of Chicago
1551 West 95th Street
Chicago, IL 60643

(Gatling's Funeral Home is providing funeral services.) 

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