When I was a senior in high school, I was a music and theatre guy. There weren’t many Mormon music and theatre guys around, so I was intrigued when heard about a new professor at USU up in Logan. His name was Michael Ballam, and he was an opera singer, who also loved musical theatre, and after a world-class career, he had recently come home to Cache Valley.
While I was on my mission, someone sent me some of his tapes. He talked about music and the gospel in a way that resonated deeply with me.. He also confirmed my desire to do something with the performing arts when I returned home.
Essentially, I wanted to be Michael Ballam when I grew up. If I’m honest, I’m not sure that I have outgrown that desire!
Using his model of teaching songs with the gospel, towards the end of my mission, I put together a fireside using some of my favorite Broadway songs to teach gospel principles. Someone videotaped it, and I sent it to Bro. Ballam, who was kind enough to write back and give me some encouraging feedback.
Even more than his feedback, his example was powerful. As I said, examples of successful performers who are also faithful members of the Church are not exactly plentiful, so good examples are precious.
Life got busy and grad school, family, and work responsibilities called.
Then, my book got accepted for publication. The publisher told me I should try to get authoritative people to write endorsements.
Well, let’s see. Who could I ask? The book is about music and theatre and the gospel. Hmmmm.
I’m not sure there is someone in LDS circles more authoritative than Michael Ballam.
I’d asked some people for endorsements already, but he was the first person I asked that I had no previous contact with.
But, I decided to try it anyway.
Sure that it might not even get to him, I mailed a manuscript to the office of the Utah Festival Opera.
A very short time later, I noticed that I had a voicemail. I had turned my phone off during church and had left it off. I checked the voicemail. It was Michael Ballam.
I called him back and had a nice conversation with him. He is the kindest, most gracious man.
The next day, he sent me a glowing endorsement. I am excited—and honored to include that here.
Thank you, Michael!
Braden Bell hits a bull’s eye with his “Road Show.” Learning more about the wonder of atoning forgiveness, you will laugh and cry as you see yourself and loved ones in the remarkably fleshed out characters of this wonderful book. A MUST read!
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