In 2009, local bluegrass musician Randy Lanham participated in the “Discover Music, Discover Nature, Discover Maple Mount” camp with Sister Amelia Stenger at the Mount Saint Joseph Conference and Retreat Center. It was the first time that he played in the Ursuline Sisters’ Motherhouse Chapel, but he never forgot the experience.
“The acoustics in this chapel were the best I’d ever heard,” Lanham said. “I knew someday I wanted to record in here. It just took me a long time to decide what to do.”
With his dad in and out of the hospital, Lanham found the inspiration for his recording project at Maple Mount.
“He had a hard time sleeping and relaxing and it made me think of when I was a kid learning to play fiddle,” Lanham said in a letter to the Ursuline Sisters. “Several evenings, he would be resting in his recliner, I would be practicing in the other room, and he would ask me to come in there and play some waltzes. He would be so relaxed and carefree, as long as I played slow, pretty songs.
“As we were in the hospital, I kept wondering how all these patents are not going crazy with all the noise, beeps and alarms going all the time. So, I thought of recording some of the old waltzes and hymns for a person to listen to while they are there, or anywhere.”
Following Mass on Monday, Feb. 5, 2024, Lanham was joined in the Motherhouse Chapel by fellow musicians Chris Joslin and Chris Armstrong to record some of the old-time music that his granddad, John Lanham, taught him to play. Joslin is the executive director of the Bluegrass Music Hall of Fame and Museum, where Lanham is the education director and Armstrong teaches classes.
“We’re trying to keep these songs alive,” Lanham said. The results were as good as he hoped.
“It sounded fantastic,” he said. “It will take a while to edit. I probably won’t do much narration, I’ll let the music speak for itself.”
Owensboro Health has agreed to play the instrumental music on its Arts in Healing channel, and Lanham hopes to offer the music to other hospitals as well. It will be available on YouTube, and he plans to speak with officials with Kentucky Educational Television to see if it could be promoted statewide.
Sister Catherine Marie Lauterwasser taught Lanham in the eighth grade at Mary Carrico School in Knottsville. He played the fiddle for school events, and Sister Catherine Marie said she knew then he had the capability to be a professional musician.
“I used to kid him, ‘Randy, that’s not a fiddle, it’s a violin. You just fiddle with it,’” she said.
Lanham invited the Ursuline Sisters to be in attendance and pray as the musicians played the music, in an effort to be healing to those who listen.
“I just hope that the music blesses people,” Lanham said.