Common Chords By Randall Hill
Rev. Cheryl Moore Adamson
The late afternoon sky scattered warm, colored light through a large living room window as the Rev. Cheryl Moore Adamson played her childhood piano on a recent summer day at her country home outside of Conway.
“This was my first instrument,” said the 57-year-old Conway native as a large grin stretched across her face. Her hands rested tenderly across the well-maintained keys of her Baldwin Acrosonic. “I was supposed to pay my parents back for this piano, but I never did,” she said with a childlike giggle. “ I guess I stole it from them.”
Music and this piano became Adamson’s solace through her childhood and as a young teenager making her way through the struggles of integration at Conway High School in the late 1960s.
And to this day, after achieving advanced degrees from the University of South Carolina, The University of Maryland and most recently her master of divinity from Duke University, she still goes to her coveted piano to show her praise and thanks.
Currently Adamson is doing double duty as pastor and minister of music at Palmetto Missionary Baptist Church in Conway. She started the church two and a half years ago and walks from the pulpit to a music balcony several times during a service.
“I think that ministering with words is different from ministering with music,” she said after playing several of her favorite songs from a well-worn copy of the African American Heritage Hymnal on the piano’s music desk. “Ministering with words is very current; it’s really like food. With songs and music they really invoke memories, and I think music plays such a critical role in people’s lives because they really tie the past and the present and lead to the future.”
Now Adamson is looking to give the gift of music to children in Conway through her Palmetto Kids Music and Arts Academy. The program had its kickoff recently at the Huckabee Heights community center with registrations for the summer pilot program. Through a grant from the national office of the Cooperative Baptist Fellowship, Adamson’s goal is to bring music lessons to the children in the area who normally couldn’t afford them.
“We know that there are so many children in our community, because of their level of poverty, who may never have a chance to do enriching activities such as take music or dance or guitar or drumming. We wanted to be able to offer that to children. We know so much about the difference that it makes in a child’s life to have the kind of discipline that music brings and to the academic rigors that it infuses into their life to learn music. We really wanted to be a part of that.”