Mark D. Roberts

Allen Levi at Laity LodgeThis past weekend at Laity Lodge I got to know Allen Levi. He was the musician for our retreat. And what a musician he is!
I expect that some of you know Allen already. He has a strong reputation as a solo artist, and he has teamed up with the likes of Bebo Norman and David Wilcox. Before last weekend, I had heard good things about Allen Levi from people I respect. But I had never listened to his music. That was my loss.
Allen is a 53-year-old lawyer from Georgia, though some years ago he put aside his law practice in order to focus on music. According to his website,  Allen once took a sabbatical from his law practice in order to get a master’s degree in English literature from the University of Edinburgh, Scotland. That may help to explain his extraordinary gifts as a poet and storyteller.
I don’t remember when I’ve heard a more engaging musician/storyteller. I could listen for hours to Allen’s description of everyday life. Like the best of poets, he sees the world differently. He makes connections and discovers ironies that are there for all to see, but are usually discovered by the poet.
Allen is also an excellent guitarist and vocalist. His concert at Laity Lodge was a pure delight. It was one of the most intimate, funny, and touching concerts I have ever been too. It was as if Allen was a friend sharing his life with me and helping me to see my life with new eyes.
Allen is a Christian, and his faith shines through his music, even songs that aren’t obviously Christian. He’s one of those artists who doesn’t need to say the word “Jesus” in every one of his works because they are so profoundly filled with Jesus.
I thought I’d share with you the lyrics from one of Allen’s songs called “Refrigerator Art.” You’ll enjoy reading this song as a poem. But hearing him sing it is ten times richer than reading it. (You can hear a short clip of the first verse here.)

Your little kid comes home from kindergarten,
He says: “Mom, I drew a picture just for you.”
A masterpiece on green construction paper,
Though what it is you haven’t got a clue.
But you love those little scribbles just because of whose they are.
Just what they mean you really do not care.
You just kiss your little Rembrandt and you say,
“When we get home, we gonna tape it up of the Frigidaire.”
‘Cause you’re a collector of refrigerator art.
You’re a collector of refrigerator art.
Little kids create their world with their Crayola.
To some it might just look a colored mess.
But beauty’s in the eye of the beholder,
And moms can be so easy to impress.
They are collectors of refrigerator art.
And no mother worth the keeping,
Would chastise or deplore.
She would open up a gallery,
Right on the freezer door.
We try to do the best of which we’re able.
But every time you know we fall so short.
Compared to true perfection we all fall outside the lines.
At best we’re just refrigerator art.
But the one who put the stars up in the heavens,
The one who made the wings of the butterflies,
He will take us with our awful disproportion.
Somehow we’re all still lovely in his eyes.
He’s a collector of refrigerator art.
He’s a corrector of refrigerator art.
He’s the protector of refrigerator art.
Well a little kid comes home from kindergarten,
Says “Happy Mama’s Day. I drew this just for you.”

It’s hard to convey the experience of hearing Allen in a blog post. No, it’s impossible. So let me say that if you ever have the chance to hear him life, by all means go for it.
In the meanwhile, you can listen to his music via recording. You can purchase several of Allen’s albums from iTunes. is also a source for his music. Just search on “Allen Levi.”  You can learn a whole lot more about him and his music, as well as purchase CDs, from his website.

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