Singing praises for Ricky Goodwyn Jr.

Published 9:52 pm Wednesday, August 14, 2019

This week I had the opportunity to speak with Ricky Goodwyn Jr., along with two of the people in his life that have helped him develop into an exceptional singer.

Goodwyn is a 20-year-old rising sophomore at James Madison University in Harrisonburg, and on Sunday he’s going to sing for his benefit recital at Main Street United Methodist Church.

This is part of a community-wide effort organized by Sundays at Four in Smithfield, a group that provides a venue for professionals and students to perform and showcase their talents.

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More specifically, it’s the work of Mary Cole, the founder and managing director of Sundays at Four and the woman who’s helped this campaign grow bigger and bigger.

It’s all to help Goodwyn succeed and develop his already impressive performance skills.

“He is definitely ahead of others his age in being able to interpret and present the music,” Cole said. “He doesn’t seem like he’s 20 years old. He seems far older in his ability to handle recitals.”

Heidi Bloch, the artistic director for Sundays at Four, said Goodwyn has shown a tremendous ability to embody the characters of his performances and to leave an emotional impact with his delivery.

Among the pieces he will sing for his fifth full recital on Sunday will be the “Confession Aria” from Jake Heggie’s opera “Dead Man Walking.” Bloch explained to me how the last time Goodwyn gave this confession, he stunned his audience.

“He did this three weeks ago in Smithfield and there was not a sound for many seconds after he finished singing,” Bloch said.

I found one of Goodwyn’s performances on YouTube prior to my interview with him, and I was impressed by his capable voice. I was even more impressed when he explained trials and tribulations he’s had to overcome.

He told me about moving from place to place with his mom and two sisters after his dad left — living in motels, cars and occasionally with other family members.

He explained how he was taken away from his mother after an incident, then went on to live with his father from 2014 to 2017, until difficulties with his father pushed him out of his father’s house.

Furthermore, Goodwyn’s mother, Laquette Chante Wilson, died from a stroke on July 17. He said he and others called her “Angel,” and that he will dedicate his recital on Sunday to her memory.

Goodwyn’s gotten through all of this through his “God-sent” supporters at Sundays at Four, as he described them, and through his dedication to his music.

“It was an outlet for me to stay off the street and focus on my (musical) ability. It kept me grounded,” he said.

I applaud Goodwyn for his drive to make a better life for himself, and I encourage others to help provide the financial assistance he needs to stay in school and stay on his path.

Cash and checks will be accepted anytime. Checks may be made payable to Ricky Goodwyn Jr. or to PCCMI for: Ricky Goodwyn Jr. PCCMI is a 501c3 non-profit that is collecting money on his behalf. Donations may be mailed to Sundays at Four, P.O. Box 61, Smithfield, VA 23431.

Goodwyn’s benefit recital will be at 4 p.m. this Sunday at Main Street United Methodist Church, 202 N. Main St. Contact Mary Cole at 675-5777 or for further information.