After a Tornado Blew His Roof Away, He Played Piano Under an Open Sky

The morning after Jordan Baize’s house in Kentucky was destroyed, he turned to his Yamaha piano. It was a moment of calm that his sister recorded on video.,


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After emerging from his basement in Bremen, Ky., where he had sheltered during a tornado, Jordan Baize saw that the roof of his house had blown away, doors had come off their hinges and shattered glass and insulation were scattered everywhere.

His Yamaha piano, however, was still intact. Under an overcast sky the next morning, Mr. Baize sat alone in his living room and started to play a song that had been stuck in his head for days.

Whitney Brown, Mr. Baize’s sister, said she heard her brother playing on Saturday while she was in his bedroom packing clothes into boxes. As she started recording Mr. Baize, she recognized the tune as a Christian worship song, “There’s Something About That Name,” and recalled the words:

“Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about that name,” a reference to Jesus Christ.

She said those lyrics seemed apt for the situation. Her brother’s house, his “kingdom,” had been destroyed, but his hope had not been, she said.

“It was healing, just to know that he was still clinging on to the hope of Jesus,” said Ms. Brown, 32, a massage therapist and doula and an owner of a saw mill.

At least 88 people were killed as tornadoes tore through Kentucky, Arkansas, Illinois, Mississippi, Missouri and Tennessee on Friday. Twelve people were killed in Bremen.

ImageA chicken sat on the piano.
A chicken sat on the piano.Credit…Whitney Brown

Mr. Baize, 34, said he had not realized that his sister was recording him but was heartened by the response after she posted the video on Facebook.

“In these times, whether folks all around the world have suffered a tornado this past weekend or not, we all are facing storms of some kind,” said Mr. Baize, an accountant and consultant. “That little bit of peace and perspective that I was dealing with, in what I thought was a personal, private moment, I think has spoken to people across the world.”

Mr. Baize said that he rushed into the basement with his two children, his ex-wife and her husband, and they huddled under a mattress just before the tornado was expected on Friday night. Three or four minutes later, it did, he said. It lasted about 30 seconds.

After the storm passed, he and his children spent the night at his parents’ house nearby. When he returned to the house the next morning, he took stock of the wreckage: debris everywhere, five or six inches of rain in what was left of the house, and damaged trees that three generations of his family had grown up climbing. He turned to the piano, which was covered with water.

“I thought I might just see what shape the piano is in,” he recalled thinking. “If it’s in awful, terrible shape, I can at least play once more.” He started playing and felt a sense of peace.

Gloria Gaither wrote the lyrics to “There’s Something About That Name,” and her husband, Bill Gaither, composed the music. She said she was overwhelmed after seeing the video clip of the song they wrote decades ago.

“A song appears in somebody’s life when they need it, evidently,” she said, “in circumstances we never could have dreamed.”

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