The Easter holiday brought back the memory of a special being I met at the Agape International Center of Truth in Los Angeles during the time period 1991-1999 while I was studying for the ministry under Rev. Michael Beckwith. His name was Carl Anderson.
Carl Anderson – cover photo on his album “On & On”
He was the most outstanding singer with the most beautiful humble spirit. And there was an indefinable quality to Carl’s voice that set him apart from any other singer.
“How do you keep the music playing” by Carl Anderson
That voice and his acting talent and his extreme good looks had earned him the role of Judas Iscariot in the hit Broadway musical, “Jesus Christ Superstar.”
Shortly before I went back to South Africa to start my multiracial ministry in 1999, I had the good fortune to connect with Carl personally one Sunday morning at Agape. What an elegant soul! He was very supportive towards me and my mission. I invited him to South Africa to sing at my church – a church which did not even exist at that time except in my 12 year-old vision. He nodded and smiled and told me to contact him when I was ready.
Once I got back to Johannesburg in early 2000, the vision started taking form and the spiritual community of Soul Home began to grow. It was all quite miraculous and I was constantly in awe but I was often very homesick for Agape and all of my friends, colleagues and teachers.
One night in 2001, about 16 months after my return to S. Africa, I was in a deep well of loneliness mixed with exhaustion, and I prayed for a sign that I was loved and not alone.
Quite randomly, I was moved to switch on the TV, and I started watching a documentary about the role of black musicians in the development of Western music. And within a few minutes, guess who came onto the screen, right there in my living room in Johannesburg – it was none other than Carl Anderson singing in his role as Judas on Broadway! I cried. It was the perfect answer to prayer – to have the Agape consciousness brought to me direct and reminding me that I was never alone.
(Note to my younger readers: The miracle is that this happened four years before Youtube became available!)
A medley of songs sung by Carl in Jesus Christ Superstar
Three years later, on 23 February 2004, while I was still in Johannesburg running Soul Home, Carl made his transition in Los Angeles. He had been diagnosed with Leukaemia in 2003. In the days before Facebook, I had somehow heard that he was sick and in hospital but I was unaware that he had left the planet on that particular day. For reasons I did not understand then, at the very same time that he transitioned, I suddenly became obsessed with the song “If it’s magic” by Stevie Wonder. I kept singing it to myself in my car day after day and, eventually, I pulled off the road and went into a mall where I bought a Stevie Wonder CD of ballads with that particular song on it. And then I played it on repeat once I got it home.
Carl’s memorial was held at Agape a few days after his transition and facilitated by Rev. Michael Beckwith. A dear friend of mine from Agape, Rev. Diane Hogan, kindly emailed me after the service was over and told me that Stevie Wonder had flown in specially from New York and had sung a tribute to Carl in person. The song he chose was “If it’s magic.”
“If it’s magic” by Stevie Wonder
In doing the research for this blog post, I learned that Carl collaborated with Stevie Wonder on one of the most popular albums ever: Songs in the Key of Life. I loved that album. I was 18 when it came out and I can still remember dancing to it at a party in my friend’s squat in Amsterdam. That was in 1977. I believe that I was connecting with Carl’s consciousness via that album all those years ago – 22 years before I actually met him at Agape in Los Angeles.
How exquisite this cosmic web is, bringing people together at the perfect time and in the perfect way.
Bless you, Carl. I expect you are giving singing lessons to the angels in heaven now. It was a privilege to know you and to hear you.
Appreciating the miracle of global communication via technology.
“The Miracles of Earth are the Laws of Heaven” – Johann Richter