Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania on October 29, 1981 · Page 44
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Pittsburgh Post-Gazette from Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania · Page 44

Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania
Issue Date:
Thursday, October 29, 1981
Page 44
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.4 x 1 VOL. 5 NO. 4 North Hills Edition of The Pittsburgh Post-Gazette OCTOBER 29, 1981 Page age 9 Rkh Rossi, left, strums on the guitar while John Walker plays a harmonica. Singing 'poets' spread gospel By Lynda Guydon Post-Gazette Staff Writer John Walker and Rich Rossi are to local religious folk music what Paul Simon and Art Garfunkel were to the peace movement poets of song. The singing-songwriting pair met in a high school English class after an accident left Walker paralyzed in body if not in spirit Both shared a deep love of Jesus Christ and folk music, which they combined to, spread the Gospel. The relationship has sustained Rossi, the guitarist, and Walker, the harmonica player, for 1 V4 years. "God can turn a tragedy into a triumph. I like helping people," the wheelchair-ridden Walker said of his accident four years ago. Today, at 19, he has put the swimming accident that broke his neck and severed his spinal chord behind him Spreading the word of Christ is his only mission. Like 20th-century troubadours, Walker and Rossi carry words of inspiration, laced with religious messages, to listeners of all ages. They've written 80 songs. "We've played for people from 8 to 80," the 18-year-old Rossi said at Walker's home in Marshall. Age aside, he said, everyone strives for something better graduation from school, a better job, material success. But as far as he's concerned, the only real advantage in life is a commitment to Christ f "Because of a Christian commitment we have a sense of direction and purpose," Rossi said. "I think there's a trend in music. You got to look at music on the charts and what it's saying. Everyone has struggles when they didn't know where to turn." Walker's personal struggle with the accident pervades their music and made the two into "groupies" for Christ The songs are from both our hearts and things that we've learned," Walker saids. In one of those songs, the "Ballad of John," Rich sings, "Wish I had a penny for all the times I want to Hy," while Walker plays the harmonica. Walker said the lyrics came to him one day when he was lying on MASTER FURRIER normu nil imtta lEMOOElEt IEPMIS APPT. ONLY 486-3739 1616 ZEUGES ST. GUNSHAW, PA. BRIDALS BY HAROLD Men BrcU Cwtw Bridal Gowi Mothar & Goert Gowra Attendant! & Prom Gowra Invitationt & Tuxes 172 174 1 !, Belevut Bridals Bekvut By HnU Tin 761-1179 734-07K 1Y . . . -;--..v ' ; ,., ... ... ,. fV his bed, looking out at a sunset Although he is confined to a wheelchair. Walker fervently believes he will walk again when he dies. He said he was hit hard when he first was told he never would walk again. "Everyone can relate to a time in their life where the bottom is falling out. The first time we played it at high school, everyone was crying," Walker said. Both graduated from North Allegheny High School in June. But through long stays at Allegheny General Hospital and Har-marville Rehabilitation Center, a faith in Jesus Christ sustained him. "The peace that Jesus Christ gives is real peace and no one can take that away," he said. A football and basketball player before his accident, Walker said that at times he still yearns to participate, but those are the times God takes over in his life. "The Lord gave me such a peace and good attitude. There were times I was down but God was always there," he said. Through it all, he has managed to cope, recently acquiring a driver's license after a crash one-week course in May. He expects to buy a van. Then travel will be easier for Walker and Rossi. Already they've found limited success locally, appearing on television shows on Channels 2 and, 40, and on radio ; programs. ' "Lately the doors have really opened for us," Rossi said. "If four years ago when I had my accident someone would have told " me, 'You and a buddy will write 80 songs,' I would have said, 'Yeah, right,'" Walker said. It is the urgent wish of both that they be taken seriously. "We want people to know our music isn't to promote our name. It's to promote Jesus . . . Jesus can satisfy you," Rossi said. Rossi said that before he met Walker, he had played guitar with his father in local nightclubs, "burning the candle at both ends." "I had gotten involved in drugs and I found that they don't satisfy you. They don't take care of prob 9" V7, VWoi fijf'jjfokCB Hair are just back vv. INTERNATIONAIVV from tho' HAIRDRESSER'S ' CONFERENCE 7 V.W.H. Campbell . Post-Gazette lems. They just cloud problems so you can't see them," Rossi said. Last summer they played on street corners, captivating young audiences with their folk style and religious-inspired messages. Walker's ability to adjust and help others is well expressed when he says, "When we played in the talent show at North Allegheny and got a standing ovation, that was a better feeling than I ever had making a touchdown. It blew my mind." OCITIZEN' 1 leo & ruth tdy thing 1004 mt. royal blvd. 486-1 OSS fashion shows vary wad., noon at aharaton north avery thura.. noon at la ctta raat. mon.-fri. 10-6 tat. 10-4 mastarcharga visi lift ILI.V V Music, sports team up By Sharon Eberson Post-Gazette Staff Writer The Northside had embraced one of its own, a young man in trouble. On Sunday, the Pittsburgh community of jazz greats joined to help Kelvin Ross, a former Allegheny High School football player who was paralyzed during a game last year. Fewer than 100 a disappointing turnout gave up the World Series to travel to the Community College of Allegheny County to see a "who's who" jazz lineup and donate the $10 admission to help pay Ross' medical bills. Drummer Roger Humphries of the Northside, Squirrel Hill pianist Walt Harper and Connellsville's Harold Bettors, who specializes in the trombone, brought their bands and talents to the benefit for Ross. Harper, a former Emmy nominee who is appearing at the Butler Holiday Inn, said, "I heard about Kelvin Ross while my band was playing at a football game at the high school. We thought we should also do something to help this wonderful guy, so I asked District Justice Baldy Regan if there wasn't something we could do to add a spark." Regan, one of many Northsiders who have worked on Ross' behalf, and Harper called out to Pittsburgh's musicians, who came out in force. "People saw this young man smile," Regan said. "That was the greatest inducement we had." Noting the smile that has captured the hearts of everyone Ross meets, the smooth-playing Harper quintet dedicated "Don't Change the Mood I'm In," to Kelvin, as the youngest member of the Ross family and his father, George, watched from the stands, smiling all the time. The bands brought a Pittsburgh flavor to each number, as Harold and Jerry Bettors' version of "New York, New York" "became "North-side, Northside" and included the lyric, ". . . King of the Hill District." One of the highlights of the concert was a lesson in rythm from Joe Harris, a Northsider who played percussion for Dizzie Gillespie and now teaches music at Pitt A surprise performer was 22-year-old Rita Jackson, a blonde from Upper St Clair who recently graduated from Penn State with a singing career in mind. With Harper's band backing up a Gershwin number, a blues and a swing tune, Jackson's clear and powerful voice "Whatta set of CITIZEN' A new beautiful I $110 $99.50 $69.50 $89.50 $75 $115 $105 $99.50 $89.50 $99.50 $65 $65 ANALOG QUARTZ INCREDIBLE VALUE FASHION LEADERSHIP INTERNATIONAL CITIZEN WARRANTY EFFICIENT, FAST SERVICES CENTERS QUARTZ TECHNOLOGY CITIZEN RELIABILITY pipes," was Harper's comment drew nods and appreciation. Besides taking in the music, the audience had a chance to bid for sports paraphenalia donated by the Steelers and World Boxing Council champion Larry Holmes, among others. The most profitable item was Joe Paterno's jacket which brought $90. The Penn State football coach took off his jacket after Saturday's 34-7 win over West Virginia and donated it to help Ross. A football donated by former North-gate High School star Jim Hazlett, now a member of the Buffalo Bills, brought $75. Holmes' trunks went to Oak-mont's Harry Chrysta, who paid $60. The concert and auction donations will be added to the more than $6,000 raised by Perry, Oliver and Allegheny high schools. Football players from the three teams were out in force Saturday for "Tag Day," a fund-raising day held Downtown. Senior linebacker Richard Reed, president of the Allegheny High School Student Council, had walked 86 laps around the school track at Saturday's walkathon to raise funds for his former teammate. He was disappointed by the concert turnout but understood that "people don't have the $10 to spend unless they're really jazz fans." He said upcoming events for Ross include a performance by the Pittsburgh School for the Performing FASHION MAXIM TODAY: "NEVER SHOUT WHEN YOU CAN WHISPER This Mitt of Sheer Georgette speaks volumes. SOFTIY. or Wow 3341 BABCOCK BLVD. NORTH HILLS . 366-4788 (3D MON., FRI., SAT. 10-5 TUES., WED., THURS. 10-8 JOIN US FOR INFORMAL MODELING 1 2:00 TUESDAY II CERANIO 1 2:00 THURSDAYS PARK SCHENLEY collection at affordable prices $65 -$115 rff WW BETTER SEVEN WAYS It ' P GiGLIOTTI JEWELERS McKNIGHT-SEIBERT SHOPPING CENTER PHONE: 364-4100 in benefit 1 Kelvin Ross has reason to smile again. Arts Oct. 31 at Allegheny High School and a bottle-cap collection drive, sponsored by Coca-Cola. Anyone wishing to make a contribution can send a check to the Kelvin Ross Fund, Pittsburgh National Bank, Allegheny Center. ;M ; i V ' V'Yv.. J -'J . Ill OUR mi - ? $99.50 $115 "'"Si m w WE'RE MAKING THE MOST OF TIME. CITIZEN

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