In the midst of the breakup of his 23-year marriage, he found himself putting together a collection of a dozen love songs.
The emotion was overwhelming. As he was singing “This Nearly Was Mine,” Keiter couldn’t hold back the tears. Still, he managed to keep singing about lost love until the song’s conclusion. Everyone there realized it was a moment that couldn’t be recreated, so that became the one and only take of the song.
It opens Keiter’s new album.
Keiter grew up in Florida, where he was in a high school band with pianist Rob Whitlock. After graduating, they drifted up, with Keiter earning a degree in music performance at the University of Texas. He went on to get a master’s degree in theology and a doctorate in ministry. He served as the music director of a large church in Charleston, S.C., where he taught voice and music theory.
The old friends recently reconnected at the funeral of another band member. Whitlock and his wife, Amber, own San Diego-based Sketchin' Records and invited Keiter to record his first jazz album.
As his longtime marriage was ending, the singer focused on love songs, bringing together 11 familiar jazz and pop tunes plus one original number by the Whitlocks.
Keiter’s smooth vocals match the mellow song selection, which includes Neil Sedaka’s “Laughter In The Rain” and the Burt Bacharach-Hal David classics “What The World Needs Now” and “Alfie.” Noted trumpeter Randy Brecker is featured on several tracks.
To his credit, Keiter isn’t content to do a routine cover of “Laughter In The Rain.” Instead, the syrupy pop song is reworked as a jazz tune, with nice piano work by Whitlock and Keiter tossing in a scat chorus.
Overall, the approach on the album is straight forward. It seeks to appeal to listeners who enjoy classic pop songs or are just looking for something romantic.
And, there’s a happy ending. Keiter has married his new love.