The Father-Daughter Banquet – By Jay Maxwell

March 14, 2011 by Jay Maxwell

MB 134 – MARCH 2011 – The note read, “I love you Daddy and I always will be your little princess.” It was Valentine’s weekend and Rebecca, my fourteen-year-old daughter, and I were at the Father/Daughter banquet at our church. The ticket for the event had a photo of a barefoot girl standing on her tiptoes atop her father’s shoes. The photo, showing only their feet, had the caption, “come create a memory.” There was no doubt in my mind that many memories would be made tonight not only for my daughter and me, but also for all the fathers and daughters who were gathered in the social hall that evening. The room was decorated in only three colors–red, pink, and white–the colors of Valentine’s Day. The dress for the occasion was semi-formal with jacket preferred for the dads. All daughters from two-years-old to twelfth grade were invited. My daughter thought that most girls there would be preschoolers or elementary age. She was relieved when she saw many girls her age and older arriving to enjoy the banquet.

After getting their picture taken, fathers and daughters were given a sheet of paper, with one pink and one purple rectangular space, to write a note to each other with the crayons on the table. Rebecca wrote her note first, and as I read the precious phrase, “I always will be your little princess,” I could barely hold back my tears of joy as I thought back to the time in her life when her world revolved around princesses. Though she was now in her teen years, that note held her precious promise to me. I felt like a king.

Several weeks before the banquet, the committee that was in charge of this banquet asked me to DJ the event. Naturally I was delighted to volunteer my talent to this function, but at the same time wanted to spend the evening with Rebecca. The lady in charge assured me that this would be a simple event and said that my primary job was to provide background music during the arrival of guests and during dinner with a few special songs played after the special reading that the pastor would do later in the program. This seemed easy enough and a fair compromise with “working” the event and spending quality time with my daughter. Earlier in the week I set out to compile a list of songs that had a father-daughter message. Then I laid those tracks down in the order they were to be played during the event. Knowing that the entire evening would only last about two hours, it was easy to create a list of songs that were meaningful for the occasion.


Many of the songs on the list were songs that had been requested at countless wedding for the bride to dance with her father. However, I left out some songs on the Bride-Father list because they were too specific in their reference to the wedding day itself. For example, “Butterfly Kisses,” by Bob Carlisle, has become a time-honored father-daughter dance for a wedding since it chronicles the bride’s days with her father. The pinnacle of the song is when the girl is about to “change her name today” as her daddy walks her down the aisle. It’s a great song, but not for this audience, for whom wedding day is many years down the road.

The songs that made the list are a mixture of Top 40, country, and Christian tunes. Topping the list is a heartfelt tune by one of the most well-known Christian artists around today, Steven Curtis Chapman’s “Cinderella.” Though similar in many ways to “Butterfly Kisses,” it focuses less on the wedding aspect and more on the imagery of dancing with a little princess. It was played during the dinner hour and was also one of the slow songs played for the short dance portion of the evening. “Daddy’s Little Girl” is over half a century old, but the lyrics are timeless no matter who sings it. Though Al Martino and the Mills Brothers both had big hits with the song, newer versions by Michael Buble or Michael Bolton make it sound less dated. The real treasure for me was discovering the song, “King of the World” by Point of Grace, which was truly perfect for the evening. The verses of this one look at the father-daughter relationship from what seams like a mother’s perspective, while the chorus is the little girl talking about her daddy. (More on this special song below.) Whether or not you are a fan of contemporary Christian music, you are probably familiar with this group, since they’ve been selling millions of albums for nearly twenty years. But perhaps, like me, you hadn’t heard about this song.


After the dinner, the pastor invited every girl to come down and sit while he read a story. It was amazing to see over a hundred girls sitting on the floor while he read from a “picture book” titled “Dance Me, Daddy” which was based on the chorus of “King of the World.” It was a short reading and I was prepared for what was planned next. As soon as he finished, he invited all the fathers to come forward and join their daughters to dance at least one dance for the evening. After pressing the play button to start the Point of Grace song, I then took my daughter by the hand to lead her to the dance floor. We listened and swayed to the lyrics that say if the girl is the princess, then daddy is the king of the world. Those moments on the dance floor with my daughter, as I listened to those words, will be treasured forever.

Glancing around, I noticed that not a single father was sitting down. Every dad there was dancing with his daughter. Some men were blessed to be dancing with more than one daughter, some were holding their daughter in their arms, while a few had their daughter standing on their shoes just like the picture on our ticket. As the song ended, I kissed my daughter on the forehead and told her what I tell her each night: “I love you.”

The whole point of the evening was to create memories, not to dance. However, the plan was to have two more dances after the Point of Grace song. The two choices were polar opposites of each other. “Cinderella” followed the special song and almost every father and daughter remained on the dance floor. I too took another spin on the social hall’s makeshift dance floor with Rebecca. Then we closed it out with a fun (perhaps cheesy) rendition of “The Hokey Pokey.” For nearly thirty years as a mobile DJ almost every event has been focused on keeping people energized, moving, and spinning the entire time. So it was a pleasant change of pace to simply create memories by playing the songs mentioned here during dinner, and a select few for a dance or two afterwards. My dream is that this event will not be the last time that my daughter asks me to “play something we can dance to, Daddy.”

Rank Song Title Artist
1 Cinderella Steven Curtis Chapman
2 Daddy’s Little Girl Michael Buble
3 King of the World Point of Grace
4 My Little Girl Tim McGraw
5 My Girl Temptations
6 Father and Daughter Paul Simon
7 Unforgettable Nat King Cole & Natalie Cole
8 Somewhere in the World Wayne Watson
9 My Wish Rascal Flatts
10 Baby Girl Will Hoge
For Jay’s complete 30-song list, check out Mobile Beat’s March 2011 issue.


Mobile Beat’s resident musicologist since 1992 (in every issue since #11), Jay Maxwell runs the multi-unit, multi-talent entertainment company, Jay Maxwell’s Music by Request, LLC, in Charleston, South Carolina. He is also a professor of Business at Charleston Southern University. His passion for detail and continuous research of clients’ requests can be found not only in this column, but also in his annually updated music guide, Play Something We Can Dance To.

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