I was talking with Paul (or Paul) at church today and was privileged to be able to ask him a few questions about playing guitar. He's a real nice guy and a talented musician. I really enjoy his music. In fact, it was one of the first things we noticed when we visited Ethnos. There is this one song, called Forevermore that has this really killer intro (most of his songs do)... "Duh-na, duh-na, duh-na, duh-na, doona, doona, doon, dun, duh-na" Sorry for the pseudo-onomatopoeia, you have to hear it to know what I'm talking about :) Paul is also a very mature and thoughtful leader (and husband, father), with a keen understanding of how to foster an atmosphere of worship.
As Paul and I were chatting today I was reminded of the rich blessing it is to be in close proximity to talented musicians. During the six or so years I was attending Evangel Baptist Church, I got to see a number of great worship leaders pass through. First of these was John Ross. I don't know well the full history, but as I understand it, John was the first in the line of great worship interns we had at Evangel. Our church devised some sort of program that gleaned talent from the nearby colleges (Multnomah & Warner Pacific), giving them a chance to practice their ministry skills in a real-life position. Unfortunately I came along when John's stay was nearing an end, but I still remember his inspiring leading and beautiful/powerful music.
Another worship leader/intern that I remember distinctly is Scott Olsen. Scott is an all-around nice guy with a big heart and big talent. Since I have a coy personality, I was a little intimidated by his outstanding persona and rapier wit. He and I had a few good little chats. Scott has a sincere heart and passion for dealing out grace and proclaiming truth. While he was leading at Evangel, he gave us exposure to the band, Forgiven Much (since disbanded), which both he and John Ross were instrumental (no pun intended) in heading up. I so much liked the whole style and message of the music of these two that I did my best to get a copy of each of their released albums. I have three Forgiven Much CDs, and Scott's own album, "Turn Your Eyes". Scott runs his own recording studio and sound installation company in addition to his passionate worship leading. Worth mentioning, Scott helped Terry McGlasson record an album entitled "Vestiges", another of my favorites. Terry was our friend and associate pastor at Evangel for a number of years. This group of CDs that were produced when the artists were associated with Evangel are my among my all-time favorite CDs. They portray a common theme that is hard to describe, but it has a lot to do with grace, a little sorrow, and a lot of encouragement. Each is a combination of remixed hymns and modern, contemporary worship music.
Adam Smouse made his way to Evangel as yet another worship intern. We were blessed to see his early days of music development. He has since exploded with talent (of course he had it all along) and has recorded his own CD (which I don't have... yet). Paul was telling me that he is now somehow connected with the Luis Palau ministry. Small world: I remember him when he was just a little blond haired guy with glasses, singing in the school choir. He and I went to the same high school, but I didn't make the connection until much later because he changed so much!
Now leading worship (last I heard) at Evangel is Melanie. Though young, she has a heart and voice to be reckoned with. Who knows, maybe we'll see her name on a record label one of these days. I enjoyed her leading and being acquainted with her through my involvement in the video ministry at Evangel. In fact, I guess I worked a little with Adam and Scott too in that regard. Good times indeed.
I have a couple other more obscure music connections to report just for the Eso of it. I consider myself somewhat connected with the acapella group, Rescue. Jason Overstreet, the group's director and constant member went to my high school. In addition, Josh McKinney, a former member of Rescue also went to my high school. He was in my class, and we were acquaintances (he was more my sister's friend than mine). I have followed them on and off, trying to attend some of their local concerts.
The last, and most obscure connection I have to "boast" about is my early meeting of the band, Five O'Clock People. Some years ago I went to a college preview in Idaho (Northwest Nazarene). Little did I know that the then relatively new band, Five O'Clock People, was presenting a free concert at a church nearby. I was able to go, and I picked up three of their independently recorded CDs, including their first, self-titled album. I know, this is pushing the limits of relevance, and I have no right claiming a connection. People that follow bands faithfully obviously have much more profound connections. I'm not really one of those types of fans. I just thought it was cool to meet them in person before they "made it big" in Christian music. No I'm not really sure what they're doing. I hear they are working on a new album. I believe they are based here in Portland, which is kinda cool.
Anyway, all that from a little conversation I had with Paul today... thanks for spawning my stroll down memory lane, Paul! I figured I'd get all that written down while it is more-or-less fresh in my mind. Unfortunately I can't remember the names of our other interns at Evangel. Who knows, maybe they have been equally successful in their music endeavors. My hat off to you all. You all have contributed significantly to my spiritual journey. I have a folder of MP3s that I have entitled "Evangel Blessings". I call it that because the music is set apart. It fills a specific need, usually when I need some contemplation or encouragement - or when I just want to worship in that particular way. Those tracks get listened to more than most. Paul, I guess I'll have to start an "Ethnos Blessings" folder... :) May God richly bless you all.