By Laura Ann Tipps
This Sunday, Oct. 13 at 6 p.m., Rainbow Presbyterian Church, located at 3220 Rainbow Drive, in Rainbow City, will host a performance by renowned musician Gordon Mote, a pianist, singer, and songwriter.
Mote is a Gadsden native, born completely blind, who got his start playing in local landmarks like The Choice Restaurant, Top O’the River, and the Gadsden Mall.
“I got a lot of opportunities to perfect my craft in the Gadsden area,” said Mote.
His craft, which he considers a gift from God, was discovered in a surprising fashion. At a Thanksgiving dinner, Mote’s family heard “Jesus Loves Me” coming from the piano in the next room. They were surprised to find three-year-old, blind Gordon sitting on the bench, playing calmly and expertly.
“It just kind of happened, but I didn’t have anything to do with it—it’s obviously a gift from God at that age.”
Mote continued to plea-santly surprise onlookers, as he became one of the first blind students to join the mainstream public school system, where he excelled academically, athletically, musically, and socially.
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“He was one of the most popular kids in school,” recalls Charles Brown, a teacher at General Forrest Middle School during the time Mote attended.
“The other kids would actually kind of fight over who got to walk with Gordon every day,” Brown’s wife, Elaine, added with a chuckle.
While Mote has had a lasting impact on those who knew him, he says that he owes much of his success to mentors he had in school. He remembers Paul Edmondson, his Emma Sansom High School choral director, with particular fondness.
“We called him Mr. Ed, and Mr. Ed taught me so much about music from third grade all the way through high school, but he also taught me about being a good, Christian man,” said Mote.
During and after his time at Jacksonville State University and Belmont University, Mote has attracted the attention of successful producers and artists, and has shared the stage with stars like Alan Jackson, James Taylor, Martina McBride, Lee Greenwood, and, of course, the Gaither family.
Mote has also been featured in songs by top-selling musicians, and recalled hearing one of those songs on the radio as a significant moment in his career.
“It was ‘Smile,’ by Uncle Kracker, and I remember thinking I couldn’t believe I’d ever hear myself on a pop radio station!”
Now, artists like Josh Turner, Darius Rucker, Sheryl Crow, Matthew West, and Trace Adkins, just to name a few, are featured on Mote’s latest album, “All Things New.”
“We goof off a lot in the studio when we’re making these records. It’s not just music, and it’s a lot of fun,” said Mote.
But Mote’s favorite costars on the new album are his wife, Kimberly, and daughter Samantha, who are each featured in at least one song.
The Motes have two other children, Parker and Ashton, and the whole family will be making the trip to Rainbow City from their Nashville home Sunday.
“I love to come back and see old friends, so hopefully a lot of them will be there Sunday. I have so many great memories from growing up in that area,” said Mote.
Mote also said he is excited to spend time with his parents, who he jokes visit Nashville fairly often, but mostly to see their grandchildren.
“Mom and Dad were great about encouraging Michael and me to follow our dreams and not let blindness stand in the way of going for things,” said Mote, referring to younger brother Michael, who was also born blind.
“God gets all the credit for everything,” Mote said, summing up his feelings with a quote he learned from Bill Gaither.
“I’m kind of like a turtle on a fence post. If you see a turtle on a fence post, you know he didn’t get there by himself.”
“All Things New” is available at gordonmote.com, in stores, and for download on iTunes and Amazon. On Sunday, Mote will be playing some old favorites as well as debuting some songs from “All Things New,” which was released in late August. Tickets for Sunday’s performance are $5 each.
Follow Gordon Mote on Twitter @GordonMote, or on Facebook. Call Rainbow Presbyterian Church at 256-442-3440 for ticket information.