Thurl Bailey makes his debut as a greeter for the Tabernacle Choir in Temple Square

Thurl Bailey graciously delivered his “rookie debut” on Sunday morning.

The towering 6ft 11in former NBA player, dressed in a gray suit with a blue tie, was calm and dignified as he walked to the microphone and waved to the audience in the conference center for the weekly broadcast of “Music and speechin Salt Lake City.

“I’m so honoured, so privileged, to be here today to welcome you all here to this live broadcast of ‘Music and Speech,'” Bailey said. “Wherever you have traveled, we are happy that you are here today with us in this beautiful conference center to witness this incredible talent, this incredible ensemble of musicians here today.”

Bailey asked for a show of hands for the first time from those attending the show, and many in the crowd raised their hands in response.

“That means we have a few rookies here,” Bailey said with a smile. “But don’t worry, this is my kind of rookie debut as your official host today. I’ve been told if you come back again and again, you’ll make it. So welcome all you rookies .

Thurl Bailey does an “audience greeting” at the conference center before the broadcast of “Music and the Spoken Word” in Salt Lake City on Sunday, August 21, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Bailey will be one of four Tabernacle Choir hosts on a rotating basis, joining Kathy Clayton, Ruth Todd and the voice of the longtime choir. Lloyd Newell. The position is voluntary and considered a calling from The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints, the organization that sponsors the choir.

Bailey will continue his work as a member of the Utah Jazz broadcast team and there will be Sundays when he is away with the team, but he is looking forward to this new opportunity.

“I think it’s a really good idea and a great experience for me,” he said. “It’s kind of a learning moment for me too, because when you have that calling, you have to immerse yourself in learning. … There’s a big story behind ‘Music and the Spoken Word’.

Choir president Michael O. Leavitt invited Bailey to serve with the choir. Bailey was thrilled because of his background in music.

“I love music,” he said. “Music has always been an important part of my life.”

Choir members sing during Music and the Spoken Word in Salt Lake City on Sunday, August 21, 2022.

Choir members sing during Music and the Spoken Word in Salt Lake City on Sunday, August 21, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

As a child, Bailey remembers waking up to find her parents dancing and listening to The Jackson 5 and the Osmonds. He learned to play the tuba and trombone and sang in his church choir and high school madrigals.

As she grew older, Bailey developed a taste for a wide variety of music, from R&B to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole and spiritual and uplifting music, even country, thanks to his wife, Sindi Bailey. Bailey has also produced her own music in recent years.

Bailey has never performed with the Tabernacle Choir and is too old to audition, but has always enjoyed their music and inspirational message when possible.

“How not to be a fan? ” he said. “Now that I’m a part of it, in a way, it’s a lot more special. … It’s a different perspective for me now because as a greeter, you’re part of this family in a way. I’m still a rookie…and there’s a lot of anxiety that goes with it, but I have a great team around me showing me the ropes, and I’m excited.

Others are also thrilled to see the choir and church continue to embrace diversity and a global audience, he said.

“This is a great opportunity for me to represent not only church members, but perhaps African Americans who have never thought about the Tabernacle Choir or the Latter-day Saint faith,” he said. Bailey said. “It’s a great opportunity for me to represent the church as well, but also to represent people of color and just people who, like me, have loved all kinds of music, and music means a lot to me, so I am fortunate to be able to respond to this call and also share my gifts.

Thurl Bailey speaks with Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé at the Conference Center before the “Music and the Word” broadcast in Salt Lake City.

Thurl Bailey speaks with Presiding Bishop Gérald Caussé at the conference center before the program “La musique et la parole” broadcast in Salt Lake City on Sunday, August 21, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Bailey’s first Sunday at work was met with lots of smiles, handshakes and hugs from the well-wishers in attendance. He was introduced by Elder L. Whitney Clayton, who serves as First Counselor in the Tabernacle Choir presidency and served as General Authority Seventy for the church from 2001 to 2020.

The former Utah Jazz forward welcomed the audience and distinguished guests before briefly telling the story of “Music and the Spoken Word,” the world’s longest-running continuous network show, airing for the first time. times in 1929. He concluded with these words:

“What we hope is that for the next 30 minutes you will feel the love, the inspiration, the hope and the divine message in the performance of the Tabernacle Choir, and that in some way you can take this with you when you leave here as you return to your busy lives. So ladies and gentlemen, brothers and sisters, please enjoy “Music and the Word”.

Mack Wilberg directs the program at the conference center

Mack Wilberg conducts “Music and the Spoken Word” at the Conference Center in Salt Lake City on Sunday, August 21, 2022.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

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