STAMFORD — The Board of Representatives began off its month-to-month assembly with an invocation, because it all the time does.

However this invocation was removed from typical.

“Tonight’s agenda will start with an invocation delivered by Minister Edward Nice from the Stamford Church of Christ,” Board of Representatives President Jeff Curtis, D-14, stated after the Monday assembly began round 8 p.m. “Minister?”

Then music started to play. Nice, Zooming into the virtual meeting from his church in North Stamford, was seen on digital camera with a microphone stand in entrance of him and the Stamford seal on a display screen behind him. He broke out into tune in a booming baritone.

An expert singer whose career has taken him to Lincoln Middle, Carnegie Corridor, the White Home and abroad, Nice had tweaked the lyrics to “Ol’ Man River,” a quantity from the Broadway musical “Present Boat,” to be about Stamford and the Board of Representatives.

“Her parks and seashores, her timber and steeples / The very best factor ‘bout her is the folks / Our city of Stamford, she simply retains movin’ alongside,” he sang throughout one verse.

Nice has carried out such a musical invocation at Board of Representatives conferences earlier than, however after final yr’s elections, the 40-member board has more than a dozen new members.

Lately re-elected Rep. David Watkins, R-1, had requested Nice to ship the invocation for this month’s assembly. Representatives from a special district choose somebody to offer the invocation every month, Curtis stated Tuesday.

“That was very distinctive,” Curtis stated about Nice’s invocation, including that he seen plenty of smiles on the faces of board members throughout it. “Invocations may be … inspiring, they are often entertaining, they are often dry as a bone. It depends upon the one that is doing that. And final night time was positively fascinating and entertaining … and provoking.”

Nice, 59, has been the Stamford Church of Christ’s music minister for a bit greater than 30 years and can be the choir director for Temple Israel of Northern Westchester. As a singer, he has carried out with the Stamford Symphony and the New York Metropolis Opera, amongst others.

“Singing elevates something,” Nice stated in an interview with Hearst Connecticut Media this week. “Singing type of solidifies what we’re right here about and that we’re a group. And I believe that that’s what David was actually searching for. No. 1: simply convey one thing a bit totally different to an in any other case pretty dry assembly format and simply type of kick it off with some pizzazz. And if you wish to get some folks going, you get ‘em singing.”

Whereas Nice is a baritone singer, his voice is lighter when he speaks. He stated that’s commonplace for a singer.

“It’s known as the Gomer Pyle impact,” he stated, referring to the character from “The Andy Griffith Present” and “Gomer Pyle, USMC” performed by the late Jim Nabors.

Nice stated he has given the invocation at Board of Representatives conferences two different instances. In 2018, he sang his personal model of “The Home I Reside In (That’s America to Me),” altering the lyrics to “that’s Stamford to me.” In 2020, when Board of Representatives conferences went digital due to the COVID-19 pandemic, he carried out a rendition of “Bless This Home,” with altered lyrics like “from the Ridges to the Cove, ever open to pleasure and love.”

“It’s enjoyable to take one thing acquainted after which change the phrases as a result of whenever you’re listening to one thing actually new, there’s plenty of processing occurring,” Nice stated. “However if you happen to’re listening to a tune that you realize, you possibly can type of focus extra on the phrases.”

He stated he selected “Ol’ Man River” this time partly as a result of February is Black Historical past Month.

Nice was raised in Midland, Texas, and attended Texas Tech’s Faculty of Music. He lived in Stamford from 1989 till 2005 then moved to Norwalk.

“I understand how the city works,” Nice stated about Stamford. “I understand how the Board of Reps (works), and I simply advised the reality about what it’s that folks that run our cities do. They work whereas we simply type of watch TV and don’t fear about it, after which we complain to them.”

Board members who had their cameras turned on at the beginning of the assembly smiled as Nice sang the primary a part of the tune: “Board of Reps work for the city of Stamford / Board of Reps work whereas the folks play / Workin’ for us from the daybreak ‘until sundown / Gettin’ no relaxation ‘until Election Day.”

The following verse made some members snicker: “We complain: You repair this city! / Visitors jams that make us frown / Poverty and finances stress / Typically our city is such a multitude.”

“Then I needed to flip it round,” Nice advised Hearst.

“There’s a vivid mild within the city of Stamford,” the next verse went. New Rep. Maureen Pollack, D-11, positioned her hand over her coronary heart as Nice sang: “There’s a vivid mild known as the Board of Reps / Workin’ their method to our brighter future / Guidin’ our means, absolutely, step-by-step.”

He continued singing: “City of Stamford, pricey city of Stamford / She should know somethin’, for she lacks nothin’ / She simply retains glowin’, she retains on movin’ alongside.”

Nice stated he drew inspiration from one of many metropolis’s previous slogans: “Moving Forward For People,” which preceded “The Metropolis That Works.”

“Some phrases come fairly simply,” he stated about his writing. “And a few phrases are lifted immediately from the tune. After which some phrases are a bit bit arduous since you’re looking for the precise sentiment and then you definitely’re looking for the precise rhyme with it.”

He pivoted to a prayer towards the tip of his efficiency, saying — as a substitute of singing — “Allow us to pray.” Board members bowed their heads and closed their eyes as Nice returned to singing: “God on excessive, Oh God above / Assist our reps to work with love / Bless their time, please lend your assist / To like our neighbors as ourselves.”

The tune culminated with: “We get weary and sick of tryin’ / With you we’re livin’, with you we’re flyin’ / So the city of Stamford will carry on movin’ alongside.”

Members of the board clapped and cheered as Nice completed with a spoken “Amen.”

“That was superb,” Pollack stated earlier than calling for an encore.

Watkins praised Nice the day after the assembly.

“Eddie is a person of God, and related to folks,” Watkins stated in an announcement. “His voice speaks and sings to all of us. I’m blessed to know him and to have him share his expertise and fervour with the Board of Representatives and town of Stamford.”

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