MOH’s multi-purpose voice

I remember the first time I heard Michael O’Hern sing. Yes, sing. I heard him as a soloist at the Church of the Transfiguration (before I experienced him as my Junior High choir teacher at church and later my friend).

I also remember where I was when he wrote about being diagnosed with brain cancer. I was singing concerts in Austria, I found a weak WiFi signal and called him.

And now is today. I will always remember waking up in this apartment, so far away from anyone who knew these many beautiful things about him, and seeing that my phone exploded overnight.

Michael O’Hern died today.

The man used his voice to educate, to inspire, and to sing to the God he worshipped.

MOH kept having me sing solos in church choir. I couldn’t read music, so I always felt nervous when he pointed out a solo in an anthem and told me to try. In particular, I felt nervous because I idolized MOH. I told him I didn’t want to sing them in front of anyone until they were perfect. “Nobody’s perfect. You think I’m perfect, but I’m not I can barely play your part for you on the piano, Laura!” This well-respected, brilliant, renowned educator humbled himself to teach a 13-year old girl.  Educator

One of my two besties growing up at The Fig was a girl named Anne. Anne never thought she was much. She had such amazing attributes, but couldn’t see them. MOH did. He never stopped encouraging her to sing, to express her feelings – good and bad – in that church choir room and in the sanctuary. He was heartbroken when she died, but he’s one of the people that knew…he tried and made her life better. He made many lives better. Source of inspiration.

I also remember the first time I heard the Biebl Ave Maria. The Schola was singing and MOH was the tippy top part. I was probably 16? It is one of my favorite pieces and I’ve listened to it at least 100 times. Every time, without even trying, I hear his voice. I do not hear the voice of the actual singer, I hear MOH. I told him that. I told him, many people, how much I love his voice. How I hear it, even when it isn’t there. Voice of an angel.

I’m lucky I have this weird connection to his voice when I hear the Biebl. But, there’s comfort for every heart suffering this loss today. We need only close our eyes and hear that thick Texas accent speaking (or singing) words of strength, encouragement, and inspiration. Each of us has countless, vast examples of MOH’s wit and wisdom from which we can draw.

Love you, MOH.


How very kind of Jonathan Dewbre to share with me the Ave Maria performance, which I’ve mentioned above. Now,  we can all “hear MOH.”

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