by Candace Anderson
"How are you all doing today?" Bob says,
putting down the instruments. "Do you like the old songs? Maybe
could all sing some old country gospel this afternoon." The
audience begins to smile. "Now you aren't going to get mad at me
if I donít sing rap music, are you now?" Bob asks the crowd.
Some of the ladies smile and begin to laugh. Bob takes his
guitar out of the case. "Well, my grandma used to tell me that
one day I would come to love the old gospel songs the best, and
you know, Grandma was right. But then grandmas are always right.
Mamma may think sheís right, but grandmas really are." The
residents laugh. "Well, weíre happy to be here, and we hope you
are too, so put your hands together and join in with me on this
old favorite hymn." The audience starts clapping along and
singing. After a few songs, there is a light in their eyes that
wasnít there before. As I stand to the side of the stage, I
think how appropriate that Bob named his company Renaissance
Bob Rowe, performer, lover of gospel music,
and songwriter is in front of his favorite audience, senior
citizens. His nonprofit company, Renaissance Enterprises is
dedicated to bringing quality entertainment to senior
residences, nursing homes, and other care facilities. Since
1988, Bob has obtained grants, raised money to fund
performances, scheduled shows for the Renaissance artists, and
has touched a lot of lives with his music. I once asked Bob why
he started this company.
"Spiritually, I was looking for an outlet for
my music that would go beyond commercialism," Bob said.
"Everybody has to eat, but I needed to do something that would
have more impact than just my staying alive. Nobody is getting
rich off this company, but than thatís not the point. And there
is always a need for a good show in nursing homes. That is
obvious every time we go to sing. We get many more requests for
programs than we have money for."
Securing foundation support is difficult, yet
Renaissance Enterprises has been successful is raising funds for
thousands of performances. "The company is unique, and I feel
driven to find money to keep this work going," Bob continued. "I
work with a great board of directors which has a spiritual first
cause for doing this, so we find the money. We have to."
Bob introduces me to the group. "I have a
wonderful treat for you today. My dear friend and colleague is
here to sing for you. Wonít you please welcome the beautiful,
the talented, with a voice that can melt butter on a cold
December day, Candace Anderson!" When I take the stage I feel
welcome. I sing an old favorite of my grandmotherís and most of
the audience know the words. I sing a few more songs and Bob
joins in. Bob sings with the residents, laughs and jokes around,
always reminding them how happy we are to be here. Some of the
halls that he takes his ministry to are beautiful, with gardens,
solariums, and goldfish pools. They may have a chapel or a grand
piano Some are care facilities with locked doors and residents
with either advanced stages of Alzheimers disease or other
debilitating diseases. As the Scripture says, "As you have done
unto the least, you have done unto me."
"They all have a need for us, in their own
way. We try to go beyond entertainment to something therapeutic
as well as inspiring," Bob says. "Love is patient; love is
"Todayís performance is for smiling people
who are clearly enjoying themselves. I tell them that every day
I get to sing is a good day for me."
"How about singing along on the song that
begins I have the joy, joy, joy, joy down in my heart, because
thatís the way I feel right now."
Bob had everyone clapping, and we sing on. At
the end of the show, the residents file past, shake our hands,
and ask us to return. Those that didnít sing have all smiled. I
think to myself that this is time well spent. This is a
renaissance of love.
Persons wishing to learn more about
Renaissance Enterprises Company, to inquire about scheduling
performances, or to help fund the work of this nonprofit company
should write or call Renaissance Enterprises Company P.O. Box
473 Portage, MI 49081 Phone: (616) 381-4887