Our Jubilate Story
Vince & Sharon Wilcox
Early in my first year at the University, I met a wonderfully zany guy named Chuck Harris at a Baptist Student Union square dance in the basement of University Baptist Church. He convinced me to try out for Jubilate in 1975. Though I had sung in church choirs in high school, I was more interested in playing Eagles’ songs on guitar than singing notes off a page. Nonetheless, Carl Beard auditioned me by asking me to sing “Amazing Grace” from the hymnal. Happily, it was a song I knew. By Carl’s kindness, I was in.
Jubilate changed my life. I found my UVA family, made lifelong friends, and learned more about music than I had ever known. And to top it off, I occasionally got to accompany the group on guitar.
The next year, I was the guy recruiting my friends—including one Sharon Hickman, who let me catch rides with her back home to Tidewater every so often. Our relationship grew, and I remember Jubilate’s Spring Tour with her to Nashville, Birmingham, and New Orleans. Unfortunately, a nursing school counselor told her that she wasn’t cut out for nursing, and she withdrew from the University, moving back to Virginia Beach as I was finishing up my final year at UVA.
I asked Sharon to marry me in early 1978, and we made plans to move to Louisville (for seminary and nursing school) after our August wedding. Not incidentally, Jubilums Kirk and Jane Cordell got married the same day we did, and several Jubilums were in—or attended—both weddings. A week or two later, Sharon and I packed up our U-Haul and headed off to Louisville. It only took a few months to realize that this particular seminary wasn’t for me. Now I was the one withdrawing from school and trying to figure out what to do next.
A few months later in early 1979, we drove down to Nashville to visit Sharon’s cousin at Trevecca Nazarene College. While there, Sharon found out about Trevecca’s Physician Assistant program, a medical arts degree that she could complete more quickly than nursing school (at the time, many nursing school credits didn’t transfer between institutions). The next weekend, we were back in Louisville and “happened” to visit a little Nazarene church where the program director of Trevecca’s PA Program “happened” to be up from Nashville visiting his mom. We introduced ourselves, and Dr. Vastbinder invited her to apply to the program. A few weeks later, we had moved to Nashville, and Sharon was back in school. I, however, wasn’t.
Although there were plenty of graduate schools in Nashville, I really wanted to get involved in the faith-based music business. The Lord had used music to transform my life and I wanted to see if I could make a living in it. Then as now, there were lots of people trying to “break” into the business. Even though I still enjoyed singing, playing, and writing, I decided to pursue the business side of music.
I began in the warehouse of Benson Records in 1979, and over the next decade, worked my way up through the company to eventually become vice-president of marketing, earning my Masters in Education along the way. One year, when Jubilate was passing through Nashville on Spring Tour, we arranged for them to record a song in Benson’s prestigious Great Circle Sound recording studio. That was very cool.
Even though I liked the business side, I still loved writing and singing. In the early ‘80s, Jubilum Stan Hamrick and I wrote a song for a Jubilate Reunion called “Together Again (You Belong to Jubilate)” that Robby Gough included on every Jubilate remembrance recording for the next decade or so. A few reunions later, I co-wrote another reunion song called “The Best Tears of Our Lives” which I recorded with my friend Don Pardoe.
In 1991, I resigned my position to pursue songwriting, recording, and performing—touring 100 dates a year for five years, recording two nationally distributed CDs, and even performing at Nashville’s historic Ryman Auditorium. As our daughters Lauren and Alli grew older, I came off the road and was hired as vice president of sales for Provident Music Group in 1997. This also afforded Sharon the opportunity to get her Masters in Nursing at Vanderbilt and to become a neonatal nurse practitioner.
A few years later, I formed an artist management company with an old Benson Records buddy. We did that for much of the next decade until he sold me his share of the business. I eventually closed it to pursue a law degree so that I could practice entertainment law. I sat for the Tennessee Bar and found out that I had passed while sitting on the steps of the Rotunda while in Charlottesville for Jubilate’s 2013 reunion. That was awesome.
Several months later, an old client called me “out of the blue” to see if I might be interested in working at his company, an online subscription service for worship leaders and choir directors called DiscoverWorship.com. His job description matched my resume: he wanted a general manager who understood music licensing, had sales and marketing experience, had management expertise, and loved choral music and serving the church. That’s where I’ve been ever since.
In addition to working there, I’m just starting my second year as a part-time instructor in Trevecca Nazarene University’s music business program. The fact that my law degree is a doctorate comes in handy in higher education. Now I have the privilege of influencing the next generation of young people who want to transform their world through music.
Looking back, my life has gone full circle, and my experience with Jubilate has been intertwined through it all.
Jubilate gave me an invaluable musical education. It gave me an appreciation for other musical genres that I cherish to this day. Jubilate helped affirm my gifts and calling. It taught me the power of a diverse community unified by their love for Christ and one another. Jubilate gave me lifelong friends with whom we have endured thick and thin. It was the context where Sharon and I grew together. Through this group and its directors, we have experienced the sort of transcendent joy that is truly a foretaste of glory divine.
If you’ve been part of our Jubilate story, words could never fully express our appreciation.
If you’re just beginning your Jubilate story, we want to encourage you to jump in with both feet…because one day you’ll look back and see how the Lord has used all these things for his glory and your good.