HOMETOWN ENTERTAINMENT: Song written in 1968 by SW Virginia woman about MLK finally gets an audience

Mary Sisco was 14 when she wrote lyrics that captured her feelings during that volatile time
Mary Sisco was only 14 when she wrote "There Will Come a Time"
Published: Feb. 10, 2023 at 5:49 AM EST
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ROANOKE, Va. (WDBJ) -The assassination of Doctor Martin Luther King, Jr. in 1968 resonated across racial lines, and struck a chord with millions of people, one of them, a teenage girl living in Chappaqua, New York.

“I was 14, and I was just so saddened by the event and moved by it,” says songwriter Mary Sisco.

Sisco decided to put those feelings into lyrics, and wrote the song, “There Will Come a Time”.

“The ‘I have a dream’ speech, that’s where the first stanza. ‘follow every dream,’ that came from his ‘I have a dream’ speech,” says Sisco.

Sisco tried to get more famous musicians to record the song after it was copyrighted in 1971.

“The arranger for Peter, Paul and Mary, Milton Okun lived in my hometown, but I couldn’t get him interested in it. I actually met John Denver, and didn’t get him interested in it,” says Sisco.

Sisco tabled her recording dreams for a while, eventually settling in Southwest Virginia and working in health care. Fast forward to 2020, and Sisco re-discovered the recording of her song.

“And I sent it to a great niece who was 19 years old, and she loved it. And then I thought, well if a 19-year-old girl in today’s world can relate to that song 50-some-odd years later, maybe other people could,” says Sisco.

After sending it to choirs all over the country, Sisco was connected to the non-profit Sing Aphasia through a friend.

“She sent me her beautiful song, and it was so inspiring - the lyrics were inspiring and timeless, really,” says Dr. Gillian Velmer, founder and executive director of Sing Aphasia.

Aphasia is a speech disorder that can happen after a stroke or brain injury.

“So Sing Aphasia’s community is meant to bring these people together to connect them with other families who are affected by aphasia, and to give them a voice through music and through singing,” says Dr. Velmer.

Sing Aphasia recorded this performance over ZOOM last summer, and released it on Martin Luther King, Jr.’s birthday in January of this year.

YouTube has made it possible for people all over the world to hear the lyrics Sisco wrote over a half century ago.

“That’s why I thought it was a good connection to get it to that group. To bring awareness to traumatic brain injuries, TBIs or stroke and people to recover and this is a way to gain their speech back,” says Sisco.

It’s a song that you could say hits many chords.

“I think the title itself, “There will come a time.” It repeats itself throughout the song. I believe in my choir members. There will come a time. Finish that sentence any way you want,” says Dr. Velmer.

“That there’s hope, the main thing, and to not be so divisive, the way things have become. That we all can get along,” explains Sisco.

For Sisco, finally, “there has come a time” for the world to hear her song.

Click here to listen to Sing Aphasia’s performance of “There Will Come a Time.”