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Cordele Ukulele Band spreads joy, happiness with music

January 17, 2022
By Kara Witherow, Editor

Churches tend to be known for their spectacular pipe organs, beautiful pianos, or accomplished hand bell choirs. It’s rare, outside of Hawaii, perhaps, to hear a ukulele band. But a group in Cordele is doing its best to change that.

Known as the CUBs – the Cordele Ukulele Band – the group of about 10 musicians has been strumming and singing together for nearly a decade.

The group was formed after Phil Davison and his wife, Cathy, returned from visiting Phil’s native England. While there, his sister and brother-in-law took them to see a local ukulele group play. Inspired by the music and the fun, social atmosphere, the Davisons, who both play the guitar, took the idea of a ukulele group home to Cordele and tossed it around to a few musically inclined friends who agreed to give the instrument a try.

Similar to a guitar but smaller, with four strings instead of six, the ukulele is considered an accessible and easy-to-learn instrument.

“With just two or three chords, you can really start playing and get going quite easily and quickly on a ukulele,” said Davison, a member of Cordele First United Methodist Church. “I think that’s encouraging to people. We have people in our group who are piano players and people who have never touched a stringed instrument.”

Rev. Ed Eschmann, pastor of Midway United Methodist Church in Cordele, joined CUBs two years ago.

A guitarist, Rev. Eschmann was introduced to the group and invited to a practice by a friend and fellow guitarist.

Knowing how to play the guitar made it easy to pick up a ukulele and learn to play, he said. The uniqueness and versatility of the instrument also made it attractive.

“I used to think of the ukulele as a toy you give your children because they are too little to handle a guitar,” he said. “I didn’t really think of it as a musical instrument, but they are. You can really do all kinds of things with them.”

The CUBs, who meet every couple of weeks to practice and play, perform songs from all genres of music, from traditional hymns like “‘Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” and “Will the Circle Be Unbroken” to oldies like “Love Me Do” by the Beatles and “I’m a Believer” by the Monkees to more modern songs like “Should I Stay or Should I Go” by the Clash.

Music is transcendent, brings people together, and taps into emotions, Davison said.

“It’s hard to put it into words,” he said. “It’s not a rational thing; music is such a feelings thing and … just makes you feel good.”

The group’s purpose is just that – to make people feel good. 

Each CUBs member loves music, enjoys playing, has fun together, and wants to share the joy of music with others.

“It’s been a natural progression from something that was initially just a social thing for us to now being something to spread joy around.” Davison said.

Makinsey Rosser, who serves as Cordele First UMC’s music minister, joined the musical group last summer. The youngest in the group at 24, she enjoys being part of CUBs so much that she is tattooed with the CUBs logo.

A shared faith, a love of music, and a desire to spread joy with music binds the group, which includes members of several local churches, including those from an Episcopal church and a Baptist church.

“All we want to do is make people happy with our music,” Rosser said. “We just want to spread joy.”

The CUBs play their toe-tapping, head-bobbing music for civic clubs like the Kiwanas and Lions Club, at nursing homes, at festivals, and at several local churches.

And while he may not preach a sermon during their gigs, Rev. Eschmann says the music helps them share they joy they find in Christ, their fellowship, and music.

“You’ve got to be able to find God wherever you are. We have joy in our hearts all the time, and music is one of the things that brings joy to us,” he said. “Why would we leave God out of anything we’re doing? Especially if we’re doing something musical we need to share it and take it with us wherever we go. The ukulele band is a great, fun way to do that.”

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