Avis Marie Bickham: I'm born right here in Baton Rouge, La. About nine months after I was born, my family moved to Detroit Michigan where I was for 12 years. I went to school in Detroit all of my elementary years, it's also where I was first introduced to a choir; school choir.
I can't remember the song but I do remember my Uncle often telling the story of how I would walk around signing the same song over and over again as young as 3 years old. I recall being in the basement which is very much so a Michigan thing, most if not all houses had three stories one being a basement. The basement was kind of made into an entertainment room; or you could use it as a spare bedroom, game room what have you. We had a game room; pool table, ping-pong, darts you name. It was also where my dad would go and play music. That's where I heard all of my classic old school music; Aretha Franklin, Michael Jackson, Sitting by the Dock of the Bay, all those wonderful singers.
I never saw the inside of a church until we made it back to Louisiana when I was 12. My grandparents were apart of the church, they were a very prominent family within the church. This is where I was introduced into giving my life to the Lord. My Mom would faithfully read a children's story book of the Bible to us but was leery about taking us to an actual church. She didn't know anybody there and tested the spirit by the Spirit. I gave my life to the Lord on the mourners bench during a two week revival even at that young age. As I was listening to the Preacher, I remember telling my mother I wanted to be baptized because I felt something happening on the inside of me.
I hadn't even heard of baptism nor seen one up until this point in time, this was also the first revival I ever attended. My mom told the Pastor I wanted to be baptized, but she was old school old school! You had to stay in your room with no television until you felt something, heard something or said something. That's how she received the real evidence of Jesus Christ living on the inside of her so that was the standard set for me. Shortly afterwards I had a vision of reaching my hand from the devil to reaching my hand to the Lord, I told my mother what I saw and she knew I was ready!
That transitioned my taste in music to listening to Tramaine Hawkins, The Clark Sisters and Andraé Crouch. I started a kids choir and we would sing by the record player. At some point I remember my cousin playing the piano while singing and I said that's what I want to do! I picked up the encyclopedia and taught myself the letters of the staff. I went to get sheet music, wrote it, sat at the piano and self taught myself from 12 to 18.
In my first/second year of college at LSU a spirit of depression hit me that let me know I could no longer listen to worldly "secular" music. I needed to stick with gospel music for my soul's sake. On day on the interstate while driving in the curve the enemy said speed this car up and lose control. I cried telling God, "I don't know what this is!" As quick as the enemy spoke the Holy Spirit spoke up and said, "Just hang on one more day!"
I said okay, go to school the next day and meet who is known as Apostle Emery now. We went to school together back then. He's in a practice room sleeping. I knock on the door, he starts playing the piano and I said I feel like I need to go back to the mourners bench. He said you don't need to go back to the mourners bench, you're saved. You just need to be filled with the Holy Ghost! I went on a 3 day fast. At the end of it him and a team from St. Francisville, a choir came down to LSU campus on the football field during practice. They circled around me praying that I would be fire baptized and I was filled that very day. That started the next dimension of my life.
Interviewer: What have you survived to get to this point in life?
Avis Marie Bickham: At the age of 5 I was kidnapped on my way to school. My mom always told me do not accept money from anybody! I don't even know why I did it, but this guy rode up on a bike offering me some money. He said just go buy yourself some candy and I did. When I came out of the store he said, "I'm going to take you to school, you can ride on the handle bars." He rode me to his home.
No one was at his house, I do remember being unclothed and he did some stuff. Around 3pm he took me close enough home for me to walk the rest of the way, which made me arrive early and that triggered my mom! She asked why was I home so early? Of course he had told me I better not tell, so I told her we got out of school early. She didn't know what to believe but told me she wasn't aware we were getting dismissed early. I went to take my school clothes off, and when I did she noticed my slip was on backwards.
Now this part I don't remember but my mom did, he must have sent me to ask for some money while waiting in the alley. In Detroit the homes have an alley behind them, I must have told him no and when my mom came in she looked up to see him standing there. The police came, they drove me around and told me to point him out when I saw him. He just so happened to be riding his bike again and I saw him. I pointed him out and they arrested him. It was the grace of God!
I had to survive rejection, my dad looked at me as being tainted after that. I was playing with my little brother and I said let me tell you the story of my life. My dad heard me and that triggered him. When my father passed, my uncle who brought my dad to Detroit was on the phone with me and he started apologizing. He let me know that my dad walked in on my uncle molesting me and just cried so sincerely, hurt that I had to go through any of that.
I survived feeling like I wasn't good enough, there was a family member in constant competition with me. Anything I did, she would do it and conqueror it. If I took piano, mind you my parents couldn't afford to keep me in it; her mom would put her in it, buy her a piano, things like that. She would call me stupid, tell me she didn't like me; those words left an imprint. I recall in my early adult years saying to myself, "You're just stupid!" if something didn't turn out right. It wasn't until about 8-10 years ago that God really set me free from comparison of others.
Interviewer: Why Music?
Avis Marie Bickham: That's how God relates to me! At a young age I would write storybooks. I'm a song writer but I'm also a storyteller, I even love doing TikTok's based on the Bible
Who is on your path to reach?
Avis Marie Bickham: My purpose is to reach the rejected! Those that feel like they aren't good enough and even at this stage in my life those who feel like they are too old. Those that feel like it's too late to start now. I started winning awards at 58 years young, The Rhythm of Gospel Award. I thought God, I'm late in the game. I'm going before people who are so much younger than myself.
I remember sitting there, it must have been 2022 at the gospel award show telling God I'm about to be 60 years old. There was a lady there that was 80 who said she asked God why was He using her at this late age. Now she's 80 and had just came from touring in Europe. So I say to myself and everyone else, it's not too late! As long as you have breath in your body, the activity of your limbs and are clothed in your right mind; you better yourself up and get going!
FB: @Avis Marie Bickham