PEI

Long love of music leads retired minister to launch album

Though Lonnie Atkinson is visually impaired, he has perfect pitch. Atkinson has X-linked monochromatism, a lifelong genetic disorder which affects his ability to see. It has lead him to discover the world in different ways.

Lonnie Atkinson says he doesn’t believe in barriers

Retired minister Lonnie Atkinson is launching an album Sunday at WellSpring Presbyterian Church in Montague. (Submitted by Lonnie Atkinson)

Though Lonnie Atkinson is visually impaired, he has perfect pitch.

The retired minister has a lifelong genetic disorder which affects his ability to see.

"The first pair of glasses they gave me, I think was at 18 months, because I always fell down stairs and couldn't walk very well," he said.

It has led Atkinson to discover the world in different ways.

"I don't believe in barriers," he said.

When Atkinson graduated from Queen Elizabeth High School in Halifax in the 1970s, his yearbook said he was going to the University of Florida to study Broadway performance.

That didn't happen. He stayed in the Maritimes and entered a business program at Dalhousie University.

Love for music

However, his love for music never wavered. 

"I paid my way through university being a church soloist, singing at weddings, all those kinds of things."

After university he went to Newfoundland and Labrador and was ordained as a minister in 1979.

All the while, he was looking for a group of musicians to perform with.

When Atkinson retired from being a minister at an Ontario church, he moved to to Guernsey Cove, P.E.I., with his wife. Atkinson put the picture of his home, which he calls his 'sanctuary in the cove' on the cover of his album.

When he retired from being a minister at an Ontario church, he moved to Guernsey Cove, P.E.I., with his wife.

"We call it our sanctuary in the cove," Atkinson said.

Now, at 65, Atkinson is launching his first solo album, Hope, Heart and Home.

On the cover of his recordings is a picture of his home.

Recorded in neighbour's studio

Last summer, while Atkinson was having a bonfire in his front yard, his neighbour Gordon Belsher told him it was time to produce a solo album.

They started to record Atkinson's album at Belsher's recording studio in Guernsey Cove. 

"It just couldn't have been better," Atkinson said. "With someone with Gordon's experience and his creativity and his willingness to work with a guy that just hadn't done it before in terms of solo recording."

Atkinson's first album includes songs he says reflect his faith and his love for Broadway. (Submitted by Lonnie Atkinson)

Songs on the album include; Bridge over Troubled Water, Just a Closer walk with Thee and Amazing Grace.

"In my mind, they are all spiritual songs," Atkinson said.

The album launches at 7 p.m. Sunday at WellSpring Presbyterian Church in Montague, P.E.I., a church Atkinson helped build in his retirement.

A lunch will be served and admission is free, but donations will be accepted for the Winnipeg Inner City Missions, a group of missions that sponsors housing and outreach programs in the North End of Winnipeg.

UPDATE: The album launch has been postponed due to weather. It will be rescheduled at a later time.

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With files from Mainstreet P.E.I.

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