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‘Amazing’ Organist Gets TV Gig

Viewers of Patty Duke’s new “Amazing Grace” TV series will see Duke sing to the music of a local musician - but they’ll hear something else.

Duke chose Coeur d’Alene music store owner Rod Mitchell to accompany her in the title song for an emotional scene.

But, “They dubbed the orchestra over my music,” Mitchell said Friday.

His feelings aren’t hurt. “It was wonderful to get to work with someone at the very top of the profession,” he said.

A few weeks before filming began, Duke wandered into Mitchell’s Music City, piano shopping. As she browsed, Mitchell tore into a rolling gospel rendition of “Amazing Grace” on his keyboard.

Duke was impressed and invited the 53-year-old to serve as a technical adviser. He showed actors how to look like church organists and played an organist himself at one point.

Mitchell’s version of “Amazing Grace” apparently had stuck in Duke’s head. An orchestra recorded the piece for the series, but Duke wanted Mitchell’s version for one scene. She needed to be moved to tears as she sang.

“She wanted that emotion,” Mitchell said. “So I played for her, but audiences will hear the professional orchestra.”

It took Mitchell six hours to match his timing and rhythm to those of the orchestra. Once he had them down, he put his version on a computer disc.

But somehow the disc was erased. When filming began, he winged it.”I played it live and hoped the timing would be accurate,” he said, smiling.

Duke sang. All went well.

Mitchell knows he won’t hear his music when the show airs at 8 tonight. But he’ll know who brought those tears to Duke’s eyes.

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