Rev Billy C Wirtz
"Love the Sinner. Hate the Haircut." Reverend Billy C.
Wirtz is a comic genius, gifted pianist and American
musicologist who defies easy classification. "I like to
think of myself as the Victor Borge of the blues,"
states the Reverend, but Billy goes way beyond Borge
both in scope of subject matter (from politics to social
commentary) and, of course, in taste. In fact, no theme
is too extreme, taboo, or undignified for the Reverend,
so long as it garners a good laugh.
Billy C. Wirtz was born in Aiken, SC, on September 28,
1954. One of his most treasured childhood memories was
watching the gospel programs broadcasted from the Bell
Auditorium in nearby Augusta, GA. In 1963, his family
moved to Washington, D.C. where he eventually landed a
job at Glen's Music, a record store which catered to
black music, including R&B, jazz, and spirituals. "I
spent all day long listening to Julius Cheeks, Clarence
Fountain, and the Dixie Hummingbirds. I was in heaven,"
said Billy. In 1971, he attended a gospel concert
featuring, among others, the 615 pound Gloria Spencer,
billed as "The World's Largest Gospel Singer" and the
Mighty Clouds of Joy. "It was like an epiphany for me, a
revelation to experience something like that live. It
left an indelible impression on me," added Billy. While
working at Glen's he was also inspired by recordings of
pianists Albert Ammons, Meade Lux Lewis, Big Maceo, and
Otis Spann to name a few. He took up the keyboard while
in high school, but it wasn't until the tail end of his
college career at James Madison University (from which
he graduated with a degree in special education) did he
play the instrument in earnest.