"And say to those who blame us for the way we chose to fight
“That sometimes there are battles that are more than black or white . . .
“And I could not put down my sword when justice was my right.
“Make them hear you. Go out and tell our story to your daughters and your sons.
“Make them hear you. Make them hear you . . .”
— Lyrics from the Ragtime ballad “Let Them Hear You”
Each Christmas season brings its own stories of chance happenings and happy endings that some would consider downright miraculous. Soloist Alex Boye had once such date with destiny, but he had a rendezvous with despair first.
The despair came 10 years ago, when he thought he had nailed a part in a major production of the musical “Ragtime.”
“I thought I had it — it was in the bag, and I was so excited,” he says. “When you throw all of your ideas into Plan A, and there’s no Plan B, and Plan A doesn’t work, you’re just heartbroken. And that’s what happened.”
So heartbroken that, after he was rejected for the part, he wasn’t sure he ever wanted to sing again. “And I remember this voice that I kind of felt — I didn’t hear it, I didn’t see anything,” Boye tells Newsmax. “But it was this feeling that, ‘One day, you are going to perform this song somewhere important.’”
That was the unlikely beginning of Boye’s providential rendezvous with Glenn Beck’s “Restoring Courage” rally in August in Jerusalem. But if it was a divine appointment for Boye, it was equally so for Beck, the former Fox News star who has since taken his message in a more faith-filled direction, while also launching his new GBTV.com site.
It turns out that, when Beck sat down to write the keynote address for his previous rally, the “Restoring Honor” event on the mall in the nation’s capital last year, he wanted to zone out on some serious mood music. He chose the Mormon Tabernacle Choir’s rendition of “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me.” He put the song on repeat, and the words to perhaps the most consequential address he would ever write began to flow.
As for Boye, he never knew, as he went on to build a successful gospel career, whether he ever would get a chance to share his important song as the voice in his heart had commanded. But 10 years later, when he heard that Beck was going to host a major event in Israel, he contacted his producers and said he would like to participate.
His hopes were raised when an assistant producer called to inform him that he had been selected. But his dreams were dashed when he learned what his task would be: waving a flag on cue.
“I said: ‘Yes, and no,” Boye recalls, “‘Because I would really rather sing, because that’s what I do for a living.’”
The producer explained that all the entertainment for the three events already had been booked. But planners wanted him to consider a lesser role. Boye was tempted to turn the producer down, because leaving his two children, both younger than 2, for a 10-day stint in Jerusalem, just to wave a flag, didn’t seem so exciting.
Then he got a call from another producer: A fourth event had been added for the VIPs who had helped make the Beck event happen, and the planners wanted him to sing at that gathering. “That’s when all of the sudden it hit me, and that song came back to me,” Boye says. “Some voice was like, ‘Do you remember that song? Do you remember what I said? Well, THIS IS IT!’”
Boye called his longtime pianist, Clyde Bawden, and asked him to do a soulful arrangement of the Broadway hit. Bawden not only agreed but also insisted on paying for Boye’s flight and hotel.
“I have been a huge Glenn Beck fan for many years,” Bawden tells Newsmax. “I love Glenn Beck. And the opportunity to play for him, or make a contribution to his work, was a once-in-a-lifetime chance for me. There was no hesitancy — I just knew we had to do it.”
The night of their big performance, about 400 dignitaries, including Beck, the mayor of Jerusalem, and actor Jon Voight, crowded into the Bible Land Museum in Jerusalem. Boye felt it was his one chance to fulfill a 10-year-old promise.
When he finished the last note of their new rendition of “Make Them Hear You,” Boye, a perfectionist who is never satisfied with his own work, felt disappointed in his own performance after traveling thousands of miles. “I kind of walked off the stage,” he tells Newsmax. “I was kind of despondent.”
Partner Clyde didn’t have much time to console his friend, either. First he had to acknowledge the standing ovation the duo had received. And then there was that ebullient fellow who practically rushed the stage to have a conversation: Glenn Beck.
“He shook my hand, and said, ‘Wow! Who are you guys and where did you come from? That song was amazing. Would you guys be willing to play that tomorrow at the main event?’”
Boye was unaware of what had happened, until Bawden told him Beck had approached him as soon as the performance was over.
“What did he say?” Boye said. “He’s not pleased, is he?”
That’s when Bawden informed Boye that Beck was so enamored of their song that he intended to shuffle the program at the last minute so they could perform the closing number of the entire “Restoring Courage” event. Beck wanted the song to following his closing speech, which he had written on the flight to Israel, again while listening repeatedly to the Mormon Tabernacle rendition of “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me.”
Ten years later, at the Western Wall in Jerusalem, Boye’s important song would have its chance to be heard.
Beck later told listeners of his syndicated radio program, “He said he was simultaneously shocked when I called, and knew that I was going to. He had been praying for two weeks, ‘Please, Lord, I know this is the song that needs to end this program. Please, if it’s your will, I’m ready.’ . . . And he came halfway across the world with no chance of being a part of the program. And I called him that morning around 11 o’clock, and I said, ‘I know this is really late notice . . . I heard this and I just thought it should end the show.’”
As for the performance itself, those fortunate enough to watch it on GBTV or on YouTube saw Boye at his best. The singer was in the zone.
“It was an amazing experience,” he recalls. “I really did feel like I was asleep. As soon as I got onto the stage, I was asleep and it was not me.
“When we talk about that divine appointment, I felt that inspiration. I even felt inspiration as to when to move to the left and to the right, when to switch the microphone in my hand. It was a surreal experience.”
When he approached the end of the song, the audience joined him in an unscripted moment, as he spontaneously proclaimed over and over again: “Make them hear you! Make them hear you!”
When the last echo died, Boye says, it was as if he woke up.
“And I looked at everyone, and they were all standing up,” he says. “It was amazing, and I was just blown away by the response.”
When Beck thanked him for his contribution, the famous media icon pulled up short and said: “’Wait a minute! Where are you from? Are you from Utah? Are you a Mormon?’
“Because contrary to popular belief,” Boye quips, “all Mormons don’t know each other.”
Boye confirmed that he is, indeed, a Mormon, and a singer in the Tabernacle Choir.
Life has changed for Boye and Bawden since then. They are cutting a CD version of their hit, and Boye says he’s never had so many Facebook messages. People stop him for his autograph in airports. Israeli officials even asked him whether he would travel and perform on their behalf as a goodwill ambassador.
What amazed Beck most about Boye was that it turned out he’d been listening to him all along. Boye, it turns out, was the Tabernacle soloist who sang “I Want Jesus to Walk With Me,” the ballad Beck listened to for hours on end while composing his most important speeches.
Coincidence? Believe what you want.
Beck put it this way: “When you let go and you don’t care who gets the credit, and you’re not too arrogant that you think it’s got to be my way, miracles happen. Absolute miracles happen.”
Then he added, “And let them hear you say that.”
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