FREDERICK, Md. (AP) — Music and faith have transported Paul Kigenza through time and space, from Uganda, where his father was murdered, to a welcome position at All Saints’ Episcopal Church inFrederick.
Music saved Kigenza and his family from despair, he said. His mother encouraged her six children to become involved in their church choir to distract them from the sadness of their father’s politically motivated killing.
His father had owned a successful business at the time of his death in 1988, Kigenza said. Until then, he said his family’s life had been comfortable.
“All that stopped,” he said. His mother went from housewife to breadwinner.
In the church choir, Kigenza filled his life with music that brought him closer to God.
“I came to love the music,” he said.
When his voice changed he could not stay in the choir, so he taught himself to play an old untuned piano. A missionary who taught music heard him and other self-taught musicians play in 1996.
Although they lacked some of the core training, he said she saw promise in their playing and offered them lessons.
“The bottom line is we had the passion for the instrument,” he said.
Kigenza’s mother died of cancer in 1997. He was left to care for his two younger siblings. The elder siblings were scattered: one in Britain, one in South Africa and one in Washington.
Kigenza taught music and saw his younger siblings through to maturity.
“It was hard,” he said.
Then it was time to see more of the world and broaden his education. He would like to add business studies to his list of musical accomplishments.
In February, he came to the United States with permanent resident status. He saw a friend in Boston and his brother in Washington.
In July, he said he joined a friend in Frederick.
Brought up in the Anglican church tradition, he sought a familiar service. Just to worship, he attended All Saints’ and received a warm welcome. The organist let him know about the opening for an assistant music director.
In September he became the first black person to hold the position at the church, founded in 1742.
He thanks God for the opportunity, and he looks forward to staying to complete his studies before returning to Uganda.
He said music is not enough to support a family, which he plans to have. While he is here, he would like to take some piano students and pursue his business studies. He has looked at Frederick Community College and is exploring other local colleges.
“I felt more settled in Frederick than any place I had been,”
he said. “I’m still looking for possibilities.”
(Copyright 2011 by The Associated Press. All Rights Reserved.)