Remembering Brook Boddie (1968–2020)

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Brook Boddie, harpist, organist, pianist, arranger and composer, passed away unexpectedly on July 15, 2020 from cardiac arrest, at the age of 51. Brook was not only an extraordinarily gifted musician, but also an extremely caring, giving, and humble human being. Known by many as a “gentle giant,” owing to his stature, he had a unique gift of genuinely loving people and putting others first.

He studied the piano and organ in his youth, and quickly mastered these instruments, becoming the organist at Broadmoor Baptist Church in Shreveport, Louisiana, at the age of 19. During high school, he also played the flute, piccolo, and oboe, and was quite accomplished on these instruments as well. He studied at Northwestern State University and Louisiana State University–Shreveport, where he earned a masters degree in humanities. At the time of his passing, he served as Assistant Director of Disability Services for the state of Louisiana, Organist and Principal Accompanist for Broadmoor Baptist Church, and as an Adjunct Professor of English at LSU-S.

In his mid–30s, Brook decided to pursue his life–long dream of learning the harp, and he began to study the instrument with a singular passion. He attended harp conferences around the country, and quickly began to make friends, which he did very easily, with many harpists. He was also quite prolific in correspondence, and many friends remarked that even though they had never actually met Brook in person, they had become close friends through the wonders of the internet. He made everyone he met or corresponded with feel special and as though they were the most important person in the world at that moment.

Brook had an incredible gift of improvisation on piano and organ, and could play anything by ear in any key, and improvise compositions or arrangements on the spot. He quickly transferred this skill to his new love, the harp, and made many recordings on YouTube of his improvised pieces. I urged him to commit these pieces to paper so other harpists could play them, and he finally had five of his pieces published through Seraphim Music, including his well–loved piece, “Upon the Willows.” He was incredibly humble and did not want to promote himself, and although he tried to keep a low profile in the harp world, his music and his caring nature actually made him quite well–known. He volunteered his harp talents regularly to play for residents at a local hospice, as well as working with disabled adults at Holy Angels Residential Facility in Shreveport. He also played the harp for many weddings, funerals, church services and other events, usually as a volunteer, as he loved to share the harp with others.

He will be sorely missed by his many friends in the harp world, but the legacy of his music will undoubtedly continue to bring comfort and peace to countless people for years to come.

—Rhett Barnwell

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