In Your Ear: Jay Holcey

As part of Tell Me More's occasional series "In Your Ear," NPR member station WVAS Music Director Jay Holcey shares his favorite tunes. That includes "Grandma's Hands" by Bill Withers and "Falling in Love with Jesus" by Kirk Whalum.

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MICHEL MARTIN, HOST:

And now it's time for a segment we call In Your Ear, that's where we hear from some of our favorite guests about the music that inspires them. This week, we're going to mix it up a little. We reached out to music gurus from public radio stations around the country to find out what songs are topping their personal playlist.

Today we start with the music director for WVAS in Montgomery, Alabama.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOLFGANG 40")

JAY HOLCEY: Hi, this is Jay Holcey and this is what's playing in my ear.

MARC ANTOINE: (Instrumental)

HOLCEY: The first song I'm listening to is a tune called "Wolfgang 40" by Marc Antoine. I love this song because the genres of jazz and classical music are somewhat identical to the point where the instrumentation conveys vivid emotions. It was simply genius of how Marc was able to take Mozart's "Symphony 40 in G Minor" and transform this piece into a more heavily in beautiful interpretation with sensuality meshing improvisation with his guitar.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "WOLFGANG 40")

HOLCEY: The next song I'm listening to his "Grandma's Hands," that was originally done by Bill Withers.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GRANDMA'S HANDS")

ERIC BENET: (Singing) Grandma's hands clasped in church on Sunday morning. Grandma's hands...

HOLCEY: Bill's version was outstanding and there have been many covers. But the one that stands out the most for me is Jeff Lorber's version with Eric Benet on vocals.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GRANDMA'S HANDS")

BENET: (Singing) Billy don't you run so fast? Might fall on a piece of glass, might be snakes there in that grass.

HOLCEY: I absolutely love the way Jeff was able to give a longer musical arrangement to this track. And Eric poured his soul into this from a vocal standpoint passionately. It makes your heart heavy. "Grandma's Hands" makes me reflect on my own grandmother, who I think about everyday and owe nothing but the highest gratitude. She was a robust figure in my life and she helped raise me and mold me into the man that I am today, instilling important values. I was very fortunate and blessed to have her in my circle for 30-something years.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "GRANDMA'S HANDS")

BENET: (Singing) Grandma's hands. Well. Grandma's hands. I love my grandma's hands. Whoa-oh.

HOLCEY: Another song that I constantly listen to is "Falling in Love with Jesus" by Kirk Whalum and Jonathan Butler on the vocals.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FALLING IN LOVE WITH JESUS")

JONATHAN BUTLER: (Singing) Falling in love with Jesus was the best thing I've ever, ever done.

HOLCEY: All I have to say about this wonderful track is listen to the lyrics. In his arms I feel protected.

BUTLER: (Singing) In his arms I feel protected.

HOLCEY: In his arms never disconnected. That's powerful. I know that we have all been in love with something or someone, but to show love and be in love with a man who came to this earth over 2,000 years ago, and to give his life for me is phenomenal.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FALLING IN LOVE WITH JESUS")

BUTLER: Can I hear you say we believe in God's plan. (Singing) Falling in love, yeah, yeah, with Jesus.

MARTIN: That was Jay Holcey, music director from member station WVAS in Montgomery, Alabama, telling us what's playing in his ear.

And that's our program for today. I'm Michel Martin and this is TELL ME MORE from NPR News. Let's talk more tomorrow.

(SOUNDBITE OF SONG, "FALLING IN LOVE WITH JESUS")

BUTLER: (Singing) Falling in love with Jesus was the best thing I've ever done. In his arms I feel protected. Sing it with me tonight. Come on. In his arms I feel protected.

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