She offered the kind of insight that could only be gained from age and experience. My role was to just heed. Occasionally, Pastor Caesar would shake me out of my reflection with, “Hello? Are you there?”
As you read this interview, just listen. Shirley Caesar’s cries are the voice of a spiritual mother speaking to an aching, confounded, fearful generation.
Marsha DuCille: Out of all the roles you’ve played, what would you say has been the most significant?
Shirley Caesar: I guess I’d say pastoring. Singing comes easy to me, but not pastoring because I know that God has made me the shepherdess over lives. No two sheep are alike. And, so, it is challenging for me to be a pastor. I love it, and I feel it more when I walk up and I stand behind that sacred desk. Shirley Caesar is not standing there, “Pastor Shirley Caesar” is — and please believe me, there is a difference.
MD: What’s the difference between Shirley Caesar and “Pastor Shirley Caesar”?
SC: Pastoring causes me to burn the midnight oil — to listen to the voice of God for a message for my people. Forgive me for saying “my people” because they’re really the Lord’s people. But I can’t give them a warmed-over message. I have to give them what is missing in their lives. I sit here in my office, and I plan sermons … well, no, not sermons. A sermon is something that you just reach back and get. But a message is when you have to sit and listen to hear what the Lord is saying. And I also have to take note of the state of my church — things that are going on in the church. My husband used to say, “You’re talking really to the piano, but you’re beating up on the piano stool.” So, I have to speak cautiously, and let them know that I’m not trying to down anyone or anybody. I just want to correct things that are going on without saying, “Well, you know, they’re going to work themselves out” — because a lot of times they don’t [work themselves out]. So, a pastor has to take all of that under consideration.
MD: Now, you have over 40 albums, which is unbelievable. And it seems as though every one of those albums has had a different message. What do you consider to be your most important message as a pastor in this day and time?
SC: Let me go back … let me just change your question around.
MD: Go for it.