Michael Frazier can remember the day Shelby County Schools shut down this year in a flurry of pandemic closures.
“It was a Thursday afternoon, and I was at Fairley High School,” said Frazier. “I was supervisor over the floor techs at Fairley and Hillcrest (both in the Whitehaven area). I was also teaching jazz band at Grad Academy, which is the old Southside High School (in Longview Heights). Every thing kind of stopped, but I never did.”
Once schools closed, students and teachers taught and learned virtually, but the custodial staff worked until the normal closing of the school year in May.
“Ending the school year like that was emotional for my children,” said Frazier. “I have six at home. There are 10 in all.”
Frazier had to make his way from Summer Avenue and Perkins Road, where he lives, to Fairley High School.
“It was really hard because I didn’t have a car, and I worked through May,” Frazier said. “I had to ride the MATA bus all the way Downtown to the terminal and then catch the bus taking me to Fairley. “Sometimes I couldn’t get on the connecting bus because it could only carry 14 (because of pandemic safety protocols). So, I would have to miss that bus, and sometimes two other buses. There were times I had to walk from Midtown back home. But I kept going. I never quit.”
Getting through the holiday season could have been just as trying, but the Fraziers kept their children busy and happy with a family singing group.
Frazier plays most instruments and his wife, Sharee, sings. The Frazier family brought encouragement and cheer to those on the frontlines of this pandemic.
“We have sung for police officers, sheriff’s deputies, and fire fighters,” said Michael Frazier. “We just went all over, wherever we were asked to come. This year has been a difficult year, but I think it has given us an opportunity to realize what is important.”
Sharee Frazier agreed. Virtual school and job loss for many families created a new reality. But for this musical family, Christmas reminded the children that the season is really about the birth of a special baby, Jesus Christ.
“We weren’t able to give our children what we may have wanted,” said Sharee Frazier. “But we have each other, and we are happy together. We tried to convey that joy to other families. I wrote a play, and we performed it at church. The children had fun acting out the original nativity, and everyone enjoyed the play. We presented it that Sunday before Christmas.”
The Frazier children also attended the Freedom From Unnecessary Negatives (FFUN) toy give-away.
“They were like children let loose in a candy store,” said Michael Frazier. “All six of my children were excited about picking out two brand new toys. I’ve been volunteering with the organization four years now. I direct all the music at FFUN events. We were just grateful the toy drive is here for us.”
Aside from spreading joy through music and a play this Christmas season, the Fraziers also formed a gospel group that sings every Sunday at their church.
“We are the ‘Voices For Christ,’ or as some call us, ‘The Famous Jackson 5,’ said Michael Frazier. “We have been singing at church every Sunday. I am the minister of music, and my wife, Sharee, is the choir director.”
New Jerusalem Church of God in Christ is the church Michael Frazier grew up in. He took his family back there to help the small congregation. The South Memphis church was comprised of so few that the Health Department directive closing down large gatherings at church never affected it.
Sharee Frazier deems this “one of the happiest Christmases” for her family to date.
“Although we weren’t able to give our children all the gifts and toys in past years,” said Sharee Frazier, “our family has given the gift of song and encouragement to everyone within the sound of our voices. Those songs are our gifts to others and to the Savior, Jesus Christ. And, those are gifts that money can’t buy.”