By Loretta “Ma La” LaFontaine

The song started in the heart of a little girl in the hills of Arkansas. I loved to sing in Sunday School at Church. I belted out the precious old hymns and especially enjoyed the more peppy, foot tapping, gospel songs.

My brothers and sisters and I would walk home Sunday afternoon, down the railroad tracks singing those songs to the rhythm of our footsteps. We were poor, with a large family and had many hardships, but we had a song on our hearts and the Lord to see us thru

One particular Sunday after our pastor, Brother Langley, had preached his sermon, he gave an invitation for the congregation to give their heart to the Lord. I was only six years old, but I felt the pull of God on my heart. I went forward and in tears, gave my heart to Jesus. Brother Langley told me to get by myself and talk to the Lord often and as often as I could, I did just that in my own childlike way.

It was 1951 and the only work my father could find in Arkansas was picking cotton which didn’t pay enough to feed and clothe our large family, so he packed all of us into an old Ford Model T and moved us North, to Wisconsin to find work. It was so cold, so different from what we were used to. We were little southern kids with a heavy Southern accent so the kids at school would make fun of, and bully us mercilessly.

We began to attend some local black churches because Dad said they had “more spirit in their worship,” and he was right. I enjoyed singing with them in that “soul-sounding” and rhythmic way.

In time, my dad became a pastor of a church in Madison right near the University of Wisconsin. The services were going well but we needed a musician. We had an old piano but no one knew how to play it for the services.

A visiting minister from Rockford, Illinois came to our church and he began to prophesy over different ones in the church. He turned towards me that Sunday evening and began to prophesy. “The spirit that rested on David will rest upon you,” he said, then continued, “you will play and sing for the Lord.”

After that service I had a craving to play the old upright piano that my mom and dad had in the basement. Every spare minute after school was spent on that piano. It was like someone was there, teaching me to play. I believe it was a heavenly being there teaching me, moving my hands. Within a few weeks I was starting to play for my dad’s church. That was a wonderful time in my life, being under that anointing, I felt valued and needed, like I was a part of the work of the Lord.

My sister Sharon and my Sister-in-law Shelba started to sing with me as a trio and we started to sound pretty good. We were invited to sing at a local radio station on a live program called “Whispering Hope” on Sunday afternoons. That was another way for me to help spread the message of Christ.

I busied myself singing and playing, teaching Sunday school and leading worship at church. All of this was God’s training for my future. We were just teenagers but we would set up street meetings in the cities around us, (Milwaukee, Chicago, Rockford, etc.) to lead souls to Jesus.

Someone gave me an accordion to use for outdoor meetings but it was huge! That thing was way too heavy for my small shoulders, but I loved playing it for the Lord. My brother and I began to play the guitar, at some point, and we would take the guitars and play them all the time. (I was happy to give up that heavy accordion)

God was preparing me for another phase of my life. He was instilling in me a vision for others, a heart for ministry and getting me comfortable with the tools I would need to be a blessing.

Sister Loretta LaFontaine