Allen Barber attended the Stamps-Baxter School of Gospel Music from 2010 to 2014. He received the Anthony Burger Scholarship in 2013. He passed away from Ewing’s Sarcoma, a rare form of childhood cancer, on July 13, 2018.
Allen touched the lives of everyone he met. Through the four years he battled cancer, Allen’s infectious optimism, Facebook posts tagged #LifeIsAGift, and traveling music ministry encouraged his friends and even people he had never met.
Allen was a brilliant musician. He wrote many songs and recorded two CDs of his piano arrangements. He had the opportunity to accompany southern gospel groups such as Barry Rowland and Deliverance, Ernie Haase and Signature Sound, and Scott Fowler’s Old Friends Quartet.
Allen loved singing schools and attended many throughout his life. He even started his own singing school, the Louisiana School of Gospel Music, which he ran for two years.
Besides being an outstanding musician and inspiration, Allen was also a great friend. His encouragement and sense of humor endeared him to many. Below are some of his friends’ greatest memories of him.
Allen Barber will be greatly missed, but if he were writing this article, he would want you to know that he is with Jesus, the person his whole life centered around. He would also want you to know that you too can know for sure that you will live with Jesus forever. #LifeIsAGift
Allen was so excited and so eager to learn and perfect his musical abilities. We sang his song in 2014, and I remember how amazing it was to be sitting beside the person who wrote the song. He loved southern gospel music more than anyone I know. He faced this past year with a “winner either way” mentality that we as Christians should have during any situation.
– Cody Green, student 2014-2018
Allen loved southern gospel music so much and would give me in-depth southern gospel history lessons whenever we drove somewhere. I remember one drive where he talked about the Kingsmen for at least an hour and a half! Allen’s sense of humor was one of my favorite things about him. I was never scared to crack a joke with him about anything. His optimism and sense of wonder even in times of trial often made me forget he even had cancer! He would encourage me musically, and I always knew he was being completely honest about it. There’s nobody I trusted more to tell me the truth about anything. I strive to live everyday with the optimism and hope he found in Jesus.
– Ashley Perham, student 2016-2018
Allen was very encouraging and helped me build my confidence. When we first practiced for a duet we played together, I told him that he intimidated me, and then he laughed at me. He would laugh at my mistakes and jokingly make fun of me, but then he’d turn right around and help me fix my mistakes.
I remember one day we were practicing and we had been practicing for hours. We were both getting a little irritated with one another. All of a sudden, my phone rang and it was on full blast. My ringtone was that song that goes like “If you like piña colada... and gettin caught in the rain.” He absolutely LOST it, and then naturally I laughed too. That laugh was much needed that day for us.
ASGM 2016 created such a strong bond between me and him that turned into an amazing friendship I wouldn’t have traded for the world, even though he still somehow intimidated me...
– Brooke Sutton, student 2015-2017
A small group of friends and I went to see Allen in the hospital just a few days before he passed away. At that point, he was very weak and not talking much at all. He had a little Clavinova in his room, and I played as his friends began to sing to him. He perked up a little, but mostly just kept his eyes closed and listened. I started (trying) to play the intro to an upbeat song he had written for his Christmas cantata so we could sing it for him.
All of a sudden, I heard this weak voice: "Hold on a second. Stop!"
I turned around and looked at him, as he had opened his eyes and started to sit up.
He looked at us and shook his head and weakly said, "Some things you just gotta do yourself." And he made us pull the keyboard over to the side of the bed so he could play instead.
He was the same old Allen to the end! Always critiquing my piano skills!
I will miss him greatly, but I know he wouldn’t trade that world for this one, now that he’s played and sung for his Savior face-to-face.
– Tess Milby, student 2009-2011