You are my hiding place, you will deliver me from trouble
and surround me with shouts of deliverance.
You know Keith Thibodeaux. You couldn't miss getting to know him.
Whether you first watched television when you could only enjoy it in black and white, or if you still watch TV when most of the programs you watch are in High Definition (HD) color, you know Keith Thibodeaux. Keith was born in Lafayette, Louisiana. "I was the oldest of six children brought up in a Roman Catholic household." The rest of his story might have been about a boy growing up in a Southern city. A young man playing drums in a Bayou band working in the local bars and taking bookings for weddings and reunions. If that had been the rest of the story, you might never have known who Keith is. But his story is far different than that one. And, that's why you know him.
"When I was four years old my family moved to Los Angeles, California." The move to the mecca of the entertainment industry was a life-changing event for little Keith. The cute, self-taught but, nonetheless, proficient drummer boy was noticed by one of America's most popular bands of the swing era. And the future began to unfold.
"At four, I played professionally with Horace Heidt and His Musical Knights." But, that's still not why you know Keith.
As many talented children do in Los Angeles, Keith auditioned for television shows. Those auditions are routine events in Hollywood. Talent just rushes from one to another. One casting session was different for the young actor/musician.
"I auditioned for the, "I Love Lucy" show producers for the role of the Ricardo's son, Little Ricky." From among hundreds. Keith was chosen for the part. "I was signed to a seven year contract with Desilu studios."
And, that's why you know Keith Thibodeaux, aka Richard Keith. He was the sweet, precocious son of America's favorite couple, Ricky and Lucy Ricardo. Even sour old Fred Mertz liked Little Ricky. As did all of the cast members. "The cast was very nice to me."
If the story had ended there, it would be a nice little nugget of entertainment trivia. But, it didn't. However, in real life, Lucy and Ricky's marriage dissolved. The Ricardo's subsequent divorce ended the series. And, Keith's childhood ended, both on the screen and in real life. The real world is not Never-Never Land and Keith was not Peter Pan. The only role left for Keith was Keith Thibodeaux. The only family was his. And, that wasn't going so well.
When Keith was fifteen his mother and father separated. "That started a spiral of rebellion." And part of that meant pulling from his parents. At about the same time that his relationship with his parents was unraveling, Keith joined a rock band as its drummer. With no anchor to keep him from drifting, Keith soon coasted into the entertainer lifestyle that has sunken so many lives … sex, drugs and rock ‘n roll. "When I was twenty-four, I finally came to the end of my rope."
While Keith had been taking a path of destruction, back home in Louisiana his mother was on the road to a deepening relationship with her Lord. Now a member of the Charismatic Catholic church, she saw an increasing need for a son lost in the excesses of a fallen world to, at the least, be exposed to Christ's salvation. So, she invited Keith to join her at church. He went. And, Keith's life changed forever.
"At this meeting I had an encounter with Jesus Christ. And, I became a Christian. I had a vision of the Lord Jesus where He appeared to me and showed me that He was the one who died for my sins and was raised for my justification."
While Keith eventually left the Catholic Church, the love of the Lord he experienced that night changed his life. That, of course, also changed his perceptions of his talents. He began to understand that they were a gift … a gift from an almighty God. And, that that God had a plan for the talents He had given Keith.
"I felt that the Lord wanted me to use the musical gift that he had given me as a little boy for His Kingdom purposes. He called me into service, I believe, to fulfill His calling to go to ends of the world and preach the Gospel through the prophetic words of Psalms one-hundred and forty nine and one hundred and fifty, which declare that we praise the Lord with music, with instruments and dance."
It would not have been unreasonable to expect that the next line in this story would read, "I left the rock ‘n roll band and formed a Christian band". But, in Christ, the unexpected is the reasonable. "I witnessed to my rock band and told them that we needed to change the lyrics of our songs to Godly ones. They eventually became believers and we began the Christian rock band ‘David and the Giants'." To date, the band has recorded a dozen albums and is one of the nation's most popular Contemporary Christian bands. The Psalms declare, "… with music and dance". Keith didn't have to look far to fulfill the "dance" factor. Kathy, his wife and business partner, was an accomplished dancer. "Kathy heeded the call to dance for the Lord." God had delivered the whole package. And, with it, the vision for a broader opportunity to witness. Combining their talents, Keith and Kathy created "Ballet Magnifcat!", a celebration of God's love and salvation in music and dance.
"Both ‘Ballet Magnificat!' and ‘David and the Giants,' are dedicated to presenting the Gospel through our shows, by touring nationally and internationally to churches, theaters, schools … through any venue open to the presentation of the glory of our Lord." Keith, Kathy and the rest of the members of the touring family are faithful that God will continue to provide for them and their ministries because "God has always been faithful to us".
"Little Ricky" may be why you knew Keith Thibodeaux before. His love of his Lord and the way he witnesses to his Savior, is why you'll remember him now. The little boy America loved is now the man who loves God.
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