Gospel music is his calling
Darryl Simons’s love for music was sparked at the tender age of three.
He remembers fondly tapping on the kiddie table in the kitchen of his family home, pretending to be a church organist.
“I’ve always been in love with the sound of the organ and by the time I was six, I was playing it,” he said. “My late grandmother left some funds for my folks to purchase me an instrument, a little chordette, a play-by-numbers organ that was powered by a hair dryer. I didn’t want to play with trucks or bicycles like most boys my age.
Mr Simons added: “I just got right in with music.”
It’s a passion that’s still strong today.
Mr Simons, the director of music at Marsden First United Methodist Church, will perform with gospel singer Toni Robinson tonight at the launch of her debut album, God Is.
“I first met Toni at the First Church of God when she sang in the Young Person’s Choir,” he said. “All these years later we never really worked together but then four years ago she began singing with the Marsden choir and I began performing with her at various events. “
Mr Simons explained: “We’re both passionate about encouraging young people in the arts and at the launch event we will perform alongside some of the island’s most talented young musicians.
“They have a way of taking the music and putting their own personal touch on it, which is very special and introduces the genre to a whole new generation of believers.”
It’s not unlike what the organist has seen in his own life. God has been faithful in providing opportunities for him to share his creative gifts.
“Music has always been my calling,” the 61-year-old said. “I’ve always been able to hear something on the radio and play it immediately afterwards.
“I’ve been playing at church since age 11 and even today, 50 years later, I’m still playing hymns and songs to glorify God.
“My hands may seize up sometimes, but as long as I can make a noise at the organ, I’m good.”
As a child, Mr Simons remembers always being “very conscious of God”; close friends and family used to call him “the little preacher”.
“I got that nickname because I would always emulate the pastors and have all the little children sit around so I could have a little church service at three or four years old,” he said.
He understood from an early age that God had His hand upon his life.
No matter how far he drifted, Mr Simons always knew the Lord was there.
“Most people are hard on themselves when they make a bad mistake and turn away from their faith entirely,” he said. “I always try to remember the story of Sampson from the Bible — he made a vow to the Lord, but broke all the rules.
“Even up to the end of his life, Sampson was in a bad state. That story is an encouragement to the person who thinks they’ve really messed up.
Mr Simons said: “The moral of the story is you can always be redeemed.
“It doesn’t give us licence to live outside the will of God, but it does show us the redemptive power of the Lord.
“No matter where you’ve been or what you’ve done, He can turn your story around.”
Mr Simons is hopeful that tonight’s audience will leave feeling uplifted and inspired.
“It’s going to be something old and something new,” he said. “We have a lot of young musicians sharing the stage with us, as well as a young group from Open Door Ministries who will be dancing. We have to remember that gospel music transcends age barriers.
Mr Simons added: “Some people really love the hymns, but we are adding a modern flair to introduce them to younger people as well.
“I hope people will come away first of all feeling blessed, and that those who don’t know Christ will have a personal experience with Him.”
• Toni Robinson will launch her debut album, God Is, at Bethel AME Church at 7pm tonight. Tickets are available at the church office from 10am and 2pm and at 27th Century Boutique
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