Pianist plays for same church for 75 years

By Myriah Snyder

Published: November 13, 2018

McKEE—She's been attending the same church, Gray Hawk Baptist Church in McKee, since she was a little girl. But now at 86 years old, Jacqueline "Jackie" Brumback has officially been one of their church pianists for nearly 75 years.

Although the health of her husband, who is an inactive deacon because of his Alzheimers, has kept her from being the main pianist for a while now, just last month she showed up for revival meetings on three nights to fill in and serve as the pianist.

But, according to her retired pastor's wife of 31 years and friend of nearly 45 years, Brenda Rose, that level of faithfulness is just her character.

"She takes no praise for herself," Rose said. "She's a very dedicated Christian lady. Not only did she play the piano for regular church services, but she was always there for special meetings, and if anybody needed to practice, she was always there ready and willing to do it."

The Brumbacks, who have been married for 64 years and members of Gray Hawk Baptist Church, sit by a piano in their home.

Rose continued emphasizing that her service extended off the piano bench as well. "She was very active in all aspects of the church. She's a wonderful pianist. She was always cooking and taking food to people who needed it. You could count on her. If she wasn't there, you knew there was a very, very good reason."

Brumback began her piano career when she was about 10-12 years old. She could only play with one hand, but her teacher asked her to play during devotions in grade school. She played "Nothing but the Blood," she recalls.

However, her love of piano began long before that. "When I was young, I always loved the piano. Mother said I would get a chair and put it up to the windowsill, and I would act like it was a piano. I'd play the piano in the windowsill. I always wanted to take lessons."

She continued, "When I got older, my daddy bought me a piano. Before that, anytime we'd go any place with a piano, I think I drove people crazy playing chopsticks. I was just always fascinated by the piano."

When they were married, her husband bought her a piano, which she still has. Although the young Brumbacks moved away for a year, they soon returned home, and she resumed playing for Gray Hawk Church.

The former Sunday School teacher and mother of two remembers not only her favorite hymns, "The Old Rugged Cross" and "What a Friend," but she remembers getting saved as a young teenager under the preaching of an evangelist from London, Ky.

Her advice to young musicians, and young people now, including her own grandchildren is this: "Church is the main thing. I like to see them be faithful to church." (WR)