Kentucky man soothes souls as piano melody brings hope amid destruction

Surrounded by desolation on a stage that would later reach millions, Jordan Baize sat in front of his waterlogged grand piano amid the rubble of his family's home and played

BREMEN, Ky. -- The power of music can move mountains and lift hearts. It can also offer a glimmer of hope at a time when others seek healing.

For Jordan Baize, it was his God-given gift of music that brought a sense of calm and peace during a trying time for him and his community.

The unthinkable happened on Dec. 10 after what the Kentucky governor believes to be the longest tornado in United States history destroyed Bremen’s small no-stoplight western town.

"My little 13-acre kingdom is destroyed … but I can find it," Baize said. "There are so many of our friends and neighbors who have so much worse than we do. There are houses, large nice houses, in our little community that are missing – not broken or destroyed."

When the sun rose after the storm, the small-knit community of 200 began to survey the damage, and the extent of the devastation was clear. But what happened next would bring fragrance after the rain.

Surrounded by desolation on a stage that would later reach millions, Baize sat in front of his waterlogged grand piano and played a song that he had been hearing for some time in his subconscious. 

His sister was standing in his bedroom, where everything was broken around her. She was packing anything she could salvage when she heard the most beautiful sound. Music. 

Even with some ivory keys stuck and pedals inoperable, Baize found the will to perform "There’s Something About That Name," a Christian hymn by Bill and Gloria Gaither.

"The song had been in my head for days, just like it happens to everybody else. But for me, as a musician, they typically don’t come out of my head until I can sit down with a guitar or piano and play the song. And it was; it is ironic," Baize said.

Three days before the storm, Baize returned from Disney World with his kids and other family members.

"And so you would think I’d be walking around singing ‘When You Wish Upon a Star’ or ‘It’s a Small World After All.' But I’ve had that song in my head for days, and I’ve been gone and hadn’t had a chance to sit down to play," Baize said.

But what he didn’t realize at the time was a small symbolic lyric in the chorus: ‘Kings and kingdoms will all pass away, but there’s something about the name of Christ."

"It just kind of came full circle there," Baize said. "There were the things we think are so important and so permanent are just temporary. And the things that matter most are our faith in God and the folks that we have around us, the people that we love around us."

Thankfully, Baize, along with his two kids, their mother and step-father, were able to ride out the storm out in his basement. They made it out safely, but there is sorrow for at least 74 Kentuckians confirmed dead from the tornado outbreak. Twelve of those deaths were reported in Bremen.

As of Dec. 13, there were 109 Kentuckians reported as unaccounted for, but Governor Andy Beshear said he expects that number is higher.

"Those are the families, more than anything, who have my heart right now. We’re just praying for those that were affected even worse than we are," Baize said.

Baize said he has never been any more proud to be from a community like Bremer than the last several days.

"The outpouring of support and the unity that has stemmed from such a terrible time has been truly special, and it’s been a blessing to be a part of," he said.

It will be a long process to heal and recover for everyone.

"Things are not going to return to normal in the next few days or weeks, not even months," Baize said. "So let’s continue to grasp hold of that unity that we’ve developed as a result of this storm and remain a strong united community into the future."

The full extent of the damage and the death toll remains to be seen as crews are still searching for survivors at multiple sites across the state. As recovery work gets underway, there are ways to help, even if you don’t live near the disaster area. Click here to find out how you can help tornado recovery efforts across mid-South.