Thurl Bailey’s ‘Rookie Debut’ as Receptionist for Tabernacle Choir

Former NBA star and sports broadcaster Thurl “Big T” Bailey launched the new call as a salute to “Music and the Spoken Word” broadcast in Temple Square by The Tabernacle Choir and Orchestra on Sunday, August 21.

About 15 minutes before the performance, Bailey, dressed in a gray suit, blue tie and pocket square, adjusted the microphone stand up for his 6-foot-11-inch height and in his recognizable deep voice, he welcomed the conference attendees. Center for weekly broadcasts in downtown Salt Lake City.

“I am very honored and honored to be here to welcome you all,” he said. “It is my pleasure to welcome you all to the live broadcast of Music and the Spoken Word. Now, wherever you have traveled from, near or far, we are delighted to have you here with us today in this magnificent convention center to witness this incredible talent.”

He also asked how many people were attending the broadcast for the first time – and many hands went up.

“So that means we have some rookies here, but don’t worry, you’re not alone,” said the former Utah Jazz player and current broadcaster. “It’s my, sort of, rookie debut as your official greeter today. But I’ve been told that if you keep coming back, you’ll eventually get the hang of it. So, welcome to you all for the first time.”

Thurl Bailey makes an “Audience Greeting” at the Convention Center before “Music & The Spoken Word” aired Sunday, August 21, 2022 in Salt Lake City.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

Bailey joins a group of three other traveling announcers – Ruth Todd, Cathy Clayton and announcer Lloyd Newell. For Bailey, that also means working around his schedule with the Utah Jazz.

Bailey said that he had heard from Tabernacle Choir President Michael O. Received an invitation from Levitt to join the choir.

“This is a great opportunity for me to represent not only members of the church, but African-American people, who have never thought about the Tabernacle Choir, or the Latter-day Saint faith,” he said in an interview. Before the broadcast. “This is a great opportunity for me to represent the Church, as well as represent people of color and all kinds of music like me, and music is very important to me, so I am blessed. To be able to answer this call and also share my gift .

He is learning more about the choir and the history of “Music and the Spoken Word” since it began in 1929 as he prepares to be greeted.

“And I think people are surprised who don’t know about these musicians, this whole group, they’re not paid. They’re all volunteers. … They dedicate their talents to doing this,” he said.

What does a salutation do for the Tabernacle Choir?

Before the weekly “Music and the Spoken Word” performance and broadcast, the greeter will welcome the audience, recognize any guests, introduce the Tabernacle Choir and share some history about the choir and “Music and the Spoken Word,” and share some. Dos and don’ts for the audience such as keeping cell phones on silent and clapping until the end. It is believed to have been called The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints. As the greeting is spoken before and after the performance, it is not part of the broadcast and only those in attendance see the greeting.

On Sunday, Bailey also recognized Presiding Bishop Gerald Casey and his family, and those in town celebrating the 100th anniversary of the Brighton Girls Camp – believed to be the Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints’ oldest youth camp.

Thurl Bailey

Thurl Bailey makes an “Audience Greeting” at the Convention Center before “Music & The Spoken Word” aired Sunday, August 21, 2022 in Salt Lake City.

Jeffrey D. Allred, Deseret News

“I want people to get the feeling that the doors are open to everyone and hopefully people can come in and leave a little different than when they came in the door,” Bailey said in an interview.

After the broadcast, Bailey thanked the audience, wished them safe travels and introduced the choir’s encore song – “God Be With You ‘Til We Meet Again.”

Later, Bailey was surrounded by a group as they waited to talk to her or take photos.

Musical background

Bailey’s family had a 45 rpm record player growing up and had two records—one from the Jackson 5 and one from the Osmonds—that his family listened to regularly.

“I used to wake up in the morning to the sound of music before going to school. “My mom and dad were dancing in the living room,” he said. “That started my love of music.”

He played tuba and trombone and sang with church choirs and high school madrigals.

“I have always had a passion for music. And as I’ve gotten older, I’ve been very eclectic in terms of my taste in music — from R&B, which I grew up on, to Frank Sinatra and Nat King Cole,” he said. He later moved into more inspirational and spiritual music.

“I met my wife and fell in love with country music,” he said of his wife, Cindy Bailey. Thurl Bailey has also written and recorded his own music.

While he has never sung with the choir and, at 61, is older than the 25-to-55 age range for choir members, Bailey said he enjoys the music and sees the Sunday church program as a permit.

“I’m honored to be in this position to do this and maybe bring more interest to people of the Latter-day Saint faith to come and experience music. … This music has a way of changing things, … blessing you to feel closer to God.” ,” he said.

Upcoming guests on ‘Music and the Spoken Word’

“Music and the Spoken Word” airs Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. from the Conference Center in downtown Salt Lake City until Sept. 11, when it will move to the Tabernacle at Temple Square through November. Doors open at 8:30 a.m. and attendees should be in their seats by 9:15 a.m. No tickets are required except on General Conference Sundays. See the Choir’s website for information.

It is broadcast live on Sunday mornings at 9:30 a.m. on the choir’s website, the choir’s YouTube channel, and, and Audio is available on KSL Radio, BYUradio and Amazon Alexa (must have skill enabled). Past episodes are available on demand on the singer’s YouTube channel, Facebook page and website. See airing information by state and city at

Next week, on Aug. 28, the Piano Guys with pianist John Schmidt and cellist Steven Sharpe Nelson will be guest performers on “Music and the Spoken Word.”

Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published.