By Libra Boyd
Gospel Music Fever
Pastor Shirley Caesar is multidimensional. She is a singer and songwriter, a preacher and pastor, a former politician and forever a comedian.
“There’s a side of you that many people don’t see,” I mentioned to Pastor Caesar several weeks ago inside her sprawling office at Raleigh’s Mount Calvary Word of Faith Church. “A lot of people don’t know that you have a sense of humor.” She bursts into laughter.
Since I opened the door, I figured she may as well take us on a tour of what it’s like to be Shirley Caesar offstage.
Libra: If you were not a singer, preacher, or pastor, what would you be doing?
Pastor Caesar: Um…(long pause)…raising children.
Libra: How many?
Pastor Caesar: Two.
Libra: A boy and a girl?
Pastor Caesar: A boy and a girl.
Libra: Do you have names for them?
Pastor Caesar: I like “Desiree,” and I like “Hope.”
Libra: What’s the best dish you can prepare?
Pastor Caesar: (Laughs heartily) I think my best dish would be spaghetti and meat sauce with all of the — I mean I fix all of that from scratch. I bake it, I fix it any kind of way. And my rice. I can cook rice and the grains are not gummy…yeah…and I can cook other stuff — I just don’t. I go out and eat everyday.
Libra: Me too. I don’t really cook, but I can make a really good peach cobbler.
Pastor Caesar: Really? I cannot cook a lot of sweets; I can’t do that, but you know, some things I watched my Mom do. My sister Anne, Anne was a cook, because Mama taught her! She learned by observation. Not me. I was always running and breaking streetlights and doing something crazy when I was a little girl!
Libra: What’s your favorite thing to do in your leisure time?
Pastor Caesar: I have a Galaxy [tablet], and I have a lot of games on there. There’s one game on there that’s called Tile Takedown. It’s a word game, and I love words. In fact, I saw it on the bed on the way to church, and I started to grab it!
Libra: Do you have a favorite cartoon or fictional character?
Pastor Caesar: Favorite cartoon is Tom & Jerry, but I also like uh— what’s that “beep beep”?
Libra: Road Runner.
Pastor Caesar: Road Runner! I love Road Runner, because he’s always trying to figure out a way to catch the chicken. (chuckles)
Libra: Is there another product or service that you would endorse if given the opportunity? (Pastor Caesar currently has endorsements with AARP and Medicare.)
Pastor Caesar: When I was growing up, we did not have a McDonald’s or a Burger King — but I don’t eat red meat, and I’ve also become something of a health nut. I could [endorse] the salads though. I’d also maybe like to talk about cancer or some other cause like that.
Libra: What’s the one thing people would be surprised to know about you?
Pastor Caesar: That because I’ve come from a family that wasn’t well-to-do— I didn’t even have, uh, hardly a spoon, much less a silver or a gold spoon in my mouth—that today, I give 50% of my earnings to the Lord, monies realized. I try to help needy families. I buy them fans in the summer and try to help them with heat in the winter; not because I’m trying to be different from anybody else, but I know where I’ve come from.
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Libra Nicole Boyd, PhD is a musician, award-winning author, gospel music aficionado, and the founder and editor of Gospel Music Fever™. Her commitment to journalistic integrity includes bringing you reliable gospel music content that uplifts and advances the art form. Libra is presently working on several scholarly projects about gospel music in the media as well as gospel music in social movements.