By ANDREW NELSON, Staff Writer | Published August 19, 2016
SMYRNA—Brendan Dudley jammed with a pianist and a saxophonist as he played the drums in the dorms of the Catholic University of America.
“The three of us would rock out, have fun, and the hallway went crazy,” he said, surrounded by the drums of his trap set. The crew, dubbed The Incandescents, would count on a signal from the dorm’s resident assistant to know when the gig was over.
Dudley, who is 30, now works as the archdiocesan Respect Life Ministry director. He said his talent on the drums is a “gift from God and it is also a chance to fully be myself.” There are life lessons for him as his sticks hit the high-hat, the riding tom, and the crash cymbal.
“Drumming has taught me not to rush the transitions,” said the Michigan native, explaining he’s lived in three states in four years.
He was one of five musicians who entertained a lunch crowd of more than 60 Chancery staff members, including auxiliary bishops, Bishop David P. Talley and Bishop Luis R. Zarama.
Two college-bound musicians, brother and sister Paul and Imani Duhé, who were summer interns, performed and were the beneficiaries of donations from the audience. On bass guitar was Georgia State University student Jarrett Goodly, whose father, Nick, is in the diaconate formation process.
The headliner on Thursday, July 14, was singer-songwriter Michael Tolcher. He is the son of Deacon Richard Tolcher, coordinator of the archdiocesan Prison and Jail Ministry, who was the event impresario, organizing the improv group.
Michael Tolcher can be found on stage in Atlanta and other cities around the country as a solo singer, with an electric or acoustic guitar. Recent gigs have been at Eddie’s Attic in Decatur and City Winery in Atlanta.
Tolcher, who has performed for over a decade, said he writes his songs—a blend of blues and pop—to knit people together. His ability to express himself in writing and music lets others wrestling with the same emotions feel connected, he said.
“There’s enough negativity without music having to be negative. I want people to be able to escape in my music,” said Tolcher.
His most recent full-length album, titled “Eleven,” was released in 2015. Tolcher sang several songs and invited the others to jam with him. Those who kicked in afterward to help the students received a Tolcher CD.
Paul and Imani Duhé play the saxophone and trumpet, respectively. Paul studies jazz at Bard College, in upstate New York, where he is starting his third year. He interned with archdiocesan Justice and Peace Ministries.
Imani, a 2016 graduate of DeKalb School of the Arts and the Atlanta Symphony Orchestra Talent Development Program, will attend the Manhattan School of Music in New York City. She interned with the Disabilities Ministry. Their parents are Fay, who works in human resources for the archdiocese, and Paul Duhé, members of St. Anthony of Padua Church, Atlanta.
During the concert, Paul and Imani, who grew up playing together, played and sang jazz solos and duets.