For his family and community of Mitchell, Georgia, J.B. was like a fire from heaven coming in the midst of their quiet, small town life. To the world of art, he was a reminder of the joy and passion of creation for a cause beyond oneself. He stirred anger and he stirred resentment. He stirred up a new belief in miracles as his community and family watched his art and its message being transported to places far beyond the small rural Georgia town. Those from the world of art were stirred by the power of his marks created from passion and vision. Hands of the Spirit is a musical about one man’s following his vision with courage and how his fervency and conviction disrupted and changed everyone around him.
Hands of the Spirit is based upon the true story of J.B. Murray, who had a vision in his early 70’s and began painting and drawing marks on anything at hand that he believed the Holy Spirit led him to create. These marks were soon to be appreciated as art and today his work is included in museum collections all over the world. I was inspired from the moment I was introduced to the art of Murray, I felt his was a story that should sing and dance!
In creating the musical version of the artistic life of J.B. Murray, I have kept true to the factual story except for age changes of some of the characters, some added family dynamics, and shortening the time J.B. created his art from ten years to three. Some of the dialogue and lyrics are taken directly from the words of the actual characters. The names of the characters have been changed, except for J.B. I use dancers and a choir to convey J.B.’s abstract art and the visions that he claimed he saw which inspired his journey of passion, vision, and art.