Meet The Man Who Lifted Music City With Song In Wake Of Nashville Tornadoes

Posted: 8:19 PM, Apr 15, 2018
Updated: 2018-04-15 21:19:17-04

Silence blanketed the city in the hours after devastating tornadoes ripped through the heart of Nashville, with only two sounds punctuating the quiet; sirens and a song.

Somehow, two men had climbed into the bell tower at the badly damaged Tulip Street United Methodist Church and found sheet music sitting out. With the help of a friend holding a flashlight, Trey Lewis played Amazing Grace on the bells, unaware of what the sound would do for nearby neighbors.

"People gathered in the streets, quiet, holding hands. Some of them crying for joy because they were okay. Some crying for sadness because of the loss of their homes," Lewis said. "It was a really solemn moment. I just didn't realize what a few bars of music from an old bell tower could mean during a time like that."

At least eight churches were damaged in the 1998 tornadoes. Some rebuilt, including the Tulip Street church where Lewis played the bells.

Others were never able to reopen.

Twenty Years Later

About a decade after the tornadoes, the Methodist Church chose to sell the Tulip Street building. Today, it's home to another congregation called Nashville Vineyards.

The group is in the middle of renovating one half of the building into a co-working lab, but they still use the sanctuary for Sunday services and are working to restore the historic space.

Much of the original woodwork, stained glass and the massive organ Lewis regularly played are still in good shape.

Lewis had not entered the church in years prior to NewsChannel 5 meeting with him for this story. Now, he has been invited to come back and regularly play the organ with members of Nashville Vineyards.