Spotlight on mega guitarist W.R. Sanders

| December 12, 2013
Jeanie Summerville

Jeanie Summerville

UP CLOSE WITH JEANIE

Whatz up, babies?

I hope, that all of you had a wonderful Thanksgiving and you took the opportunity to express that joy through your beautiful smiles and laughter. On that note, I must share something with you that is not a laughing matter because the guitarist who plays along side Ty Causey is having a hard time due to a condition that he has. What’s his condition? He’s going to share it with all of you and he’s more than happy to do so, on our journey of love, as we get to know one another better and this is what he has to say:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is W.R. Sanders and I love playing the guitar and I love playing the guitar for you. However, I don’t know how much longer I can continue to do what I do because two years ago, I could feel that something wasn’t right with me. My loving wife felt the same way, so she advised me to see a doctor and I did. After some thorough testing was done, I was diagnosed with a tumor that was cancerous and it was painful. But, this past year, the pain has doubled, so I have my good days and my bad days because my tumor is located where I sit. Which means, sometimes sitting causing me a lot of pain but I deal with it because I would not like this tumor to be any place else on my body since my family has a history of tumors jumping around.

“My mom found out she had a tumor when she was in her 70s and her tumor was on her brain. My sister died just recently due to a tumor but I‘m staying positive. I’ve had chemotherapy already, so the tumor has shrunk and now, my body has to heal from the chemo and then I’ll be going to surgery soon, hopefully, before the end of the year so they can remove it. 

Guitarist W.R. Sanders performs at American Legion Post 148. (Photo: Jeanie Summerville)

Guitarist W.R. Sanders performs at American Legion Post 148. (Photo: Jeanie Summerville)

“When Steve Lanier of the American Legion Post 148 called me, because he heard what I was going through. Even though I didn’t let anybody know, it was good to hear from him. He told me that the American Legion wanted to throw me a benefit. He also said, ‘I know that you didn’t ask for it but we want to do this for you because we know who you are and what you’ve been doing since you’ve been in Fort Wayne.’ That made me feel overwhelmed with joy, that somebody thought that much of me because I had no money and he understood that when you’re going through something like this, it’s hard to make ends meet. 

“The night of the event, I was in awe to see the number of people from the city of Fort Wayne that came out to support me, knowing that I’m not from here but I‘ve lived here since 2001. I’m originally from Gary, Ind. I can’t even think of the words that I want to say that pertained to that night but I was so overwhelmed and I want to thank Steve Lanier for his work in putting forth this benefit and I want to thank all the people that came out to support me. This is my first time experiencing something like this. Normally, I’m playing for somebody else’s benefit, so thank you everybody, it was just wonderful. 

Now, I’d like for you to know a little about his background and how he ended up here in Fort Wayne, Ind., playing for us and this is what he has to say:

I’ve been playing the guitar ever since I was eight years old. My dad was a pastor and now he’s a bishop and he has 30 plus churches under his leadership. My mom was a musician and she played piano, organ and drums. One day, she asked my dad to buy her a guitar so he did and one Sunday while in service, my mom picked up the guitar, started playing it and when I saw that, I was locked. I was totally fascinated and so I asked her to show me how to play and she did and I’ve been playing every since. 

“However, I was strictly a church musician in my dad’s church, with the choir. I didn’t get into playing out in public places until one day, I’m a welder by trade, and I got laid off and there wasn’t any other jobs in Gary, East Chicago or the surrounding areas that I grew up in so I looked in the newspaper in Gary and there was a guy that needed a guitar player for a band. So, I applied and I got it and that’s how I started playing with a band. But, as far as, knowing about Jimmy Hendrix and all those kind of musicians, I wasn’t subjected to them until after high school. 

“The way Ty Causey and myself hooked up is, I was to play in a church concert and his sister was the soloist. After she heard me play, the first thing she did was call Ty when she got home and set up a meeting for us at her house and I took along a CD of mine that I wrote all the songs to before I came to Fort Wayne. I let Ty listen to it and he liked it and he let me listen to something’s that he wrote and I liked it. After that first meeting, I asked him if I could play with him and he said yes and the rest is history. 

“But, being a musician here in Fort Wayne, is not going to pay my bills because the majority of the time that I play for church concerts, I play for free because I give back like that. So, I’ve had numerous other jobs but in 2011, I became a full-time welding student at Ivy Tech. Because I already have 30 years experience as a welder and with my degree that I’ll receive this month, even though the graduation ceremony isn’t until May 2014, I won’t have to work as hard if I get back into that field because I’ll be more of an instructor.

“The church that I attend and play guitar for every Sunday is called Summit and it’s located on Maumee Avenue and they’re also very supportive because I could be working right now, if I wasn’t going through this. So if you’d like to visit and watch me play guitar, gospel style, pay us a visit. And, I give GOD all the praise because what I’ve been through these last few months, I know HE’s got my back. And, every ounce of music that is inside my system and everything I’ve learned from this trial, GOD gave me all of that and I use them to glorify HIM.”

Now, I’m taking it to some others that care about W.R. and his well-being and this is what they had to say:

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. It’s Steve Lanier here of the American Legion Post 148 and this fundraiser happened because a couple of people came to me to get something going for him. So, I did it to bring some love back to the community and to show some love for W.R. because it was time for good people to get together, to do a good thing for a good man. He’s going through some medical difficulties right now where, he needs a little assistance. For someone who’s going to school and also an entertainer, it’s kind of hard to keep that medical coverage consistent, as far as, what he needs to stay healthy and strong. W.R., along with Ty Causey, has brought a lot of love and a lot of good spirits to a lot of people throughout this community for years and it’s time for us to start giving back. I figured there’s no better place to start, than right here in the focal point, at the American Legion. Hopefully, some organizations, such as the NAACP ant the Urban League will see what we’re doing and maybe they can pave it forward to other folks and they might want to get involved to see exactly what’s going on because they perform all over town and from, time to time, everybody needs some help. Good bless him, he’s a good man.”

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. I’m Ty Causey and I’ve been working with W.R. for over 10 years now and believe me, when you work with somebody that long, you love to work with them. He’s just a gem when it comes to brotherhood and musicianship. We work together really good because we have the same goals in mind and he’s always been on time, he’s always been open to my ideas, he’s always bring ideas to the table and it’s been a joy to work with him the whole entire time. And, I thought what the American Legion Post 148 did for him, was excellent and very giving and the Legion, is just one of many places that me and W.R. dedicated our time to, to give back to the public and I hope a lot more people that we played for, especially organizations, will use this as a trail blazer for them to jump on board and give back to a great musician that has been giving them so much throughout the years. But, as far as, the Legion is concerned, I’m glad they stepped up to the plate but first of all, I have to thank Steve Lanier because he’s the one that put it all together and I give a big shout out to you, Steve. It was a real nice turn out and I was very happy for W.R.”

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Janet Barron and I’m here at the American Legion Post 148, celebrating with everybody for W.R., and it’s a very nice celebration and we wanted to make sure that he saw us here supporting him. He’s looking pretty good right now and he has a nice crowd and the crowd is doing good because they’re playing good.”

“Hello, Frost Illustrated readers. My name is Henra Dufor, better known as Jeannie, and if you love jazz you should have been here tonight to support W.R., because they’re jamming and this is the best jazz I’ve heard in a long time.”

Now in closing I say, thanks everybody for your wonderful input about W.R. Sanders because I would not have had it any other way. W.R., I hope your spotlight brings you some more love, joy, beauty, happiness and some form of peace of mind because you deserve it. Also, hang in there because just like you said, God got you’re back. So until next week, you’ve been Up Close with Jeanie. Bye, bye babies.

P.S. If you would like the Spotlight shined upon you or someone that you know, all in the name of love, just send me an e-mail to upclosewithjeanie@yahoo.com. I’d love to hear from ya.

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