Summoning the Spirits

 

 

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As I watched the screen I could see the dancers leaping, higher and higher they soared into the air, headdresses bobbing and waving in unison, as the sound of the drum resonated through the crowd. As the music overtook them their eyes became glassy and they entered into a trance. Later after the dust had settled and they had finished their sacred ceremony, they explained that the combination of the drums and the dancing was powerful enough to summon the spirits that would take over their entire bodies connecting them with what they believed to be the divine.

 

Their experience isn’t unique. Humans have always used music as a tool of transcendence – it can take us to a place outside of the humdrum of our daily tasks. It allows us a glimpse into the spiritual world. It's power can stir the deepest emotions and speak in a language more effective than our words. From the complexity of the talking drums of West Africa to the simplicity of a child’s first piano solo, music is beautiful in it’s ability to connect us to each other and that outside of ourselves.

 

As musicians sometimes we can underestimate the power of what we do. Especially as Christian musicians we can sometimes disregard the innate spirituality of our craft. Sometimes, in the melee of practices, riffs, runs, mic-checks and vocal exercises, we can lose sight that this is primarily, not a technical task but a spiritual one. The notion of evoking the spirits doesn’t belong solely to non-Christian religions. We have a musical legacy of invoking The Spirit – the Holy Spirit through our playing and our singing. As we play the piano, pluck the strings of the guitar, even beat the drum, we believe that not just our music, but our very lives are a vessel for the Spirit to take over and touch not only us, but others who hear the music.

 

The story of David and Saul is commonly used as an example of the power of music. In the Bible, an evil spirit is tormenting Saul and David’s harp playing is powerful enough to ward away the spirit. We often focus on the power of the music, but the real power didn’t rest solely in the music David played but in the life David lived. The spirit he invoked was able to live in him and play through him because the vessel was not only open to being used but a familiar place for the Spirit to dwell. David’s invocation of the Holy Spirit was not simply when he played his harp but began in the every day practice of being simple shepherd. Before his harp, there was his staff and his rod and his shepherd cloak. We learn to be an instrument in the monotony of our every day life, not the excitement of a performance or concentrated craft of a studio piece. More powerful than any instrument or any voice, is the life that is lived by the musician.

 

As we practice our craft and use the power of music to touch lives, while we recognise the innate beauty of the art alone,  we can always remember that for us, our primary instrument is ourself and it's only as we master that instrument that we can come closer to making music that is in harmony with heaven.

Come down from the cross!

Matthew 27:  39-40 "And they that passed by reviled him, wagging their heads, And saying, Thou that destroyest the temple, and buildest it in three days, save thyself. If thou be the Son of God, come down from the cross"
 

It was Easter a couple of weekends ago and I had the chance to reflect on the cross of Calvary and Jesus' sacrifice there. One of the things which came through very clearly was that Jesus was tempted in a way no one else ever was. He was fully God and fully man (the bible refers to this as the mystery of Godliness) and He was tempted both in His humanity to lash out, but also to use His divine nature to use his power to overcome Satan.  

 

You can see Satan's temptations in Jesus' final hours. They're easy to spot because they're similar to the temptations as recorded in Matthew 4 and Luke 4. They are based on the idea that Jesus wasn't really the son of God and therefore He had to prove Himself. They generally have the phrase "if thou be the son of God" in there somewhere.  However Jesus was secure in who He was and knew He didn't have to prove anything to any man or devil. 

 

In His final hours before his death, the taunt was repeatedly thrown at him, which was essentially "if you're the son of God, come down from the cross and save yourself". You can find this in Matthew 27:40-44; Mark 15:29-32 (save thyself and come down from the cross etc) and Luke 23:35-39.

 

How does that apply to us?  

Jesus told His disciples in Luke 9:23 that if they want to follow Him, they would have to deny themselves, take up their cross daily & follow Him. There's a call to daily self denial & daily dying on the cross. 

John 15:20 Remember the word that I said to you, ‘A servant is not greater than his master.’ If they persecuted Me, they will also persecute you. If they kept My word, they will keep yours also.

As satan tempted Jesus to come down from the cross, he also gives us the same temptation. We submit ourselves to God and go on that cross. But as the day goes by, various situations arise which try to bring the flesh back to life. They call and cajole and taunt and scream at us to "come down from the cross". It could be anger, lust, gossip, adultery, lying, stealing, envy, or their manifold modern manifestations. You know what that sin is which tempts you to come down from the cross and prove yourself. 

 

However Jesus has not left us without hope. He says in Revelation 3: 20 "Behold, I stand at the door, and knock: if any man hear my voice, and open the door, I will come in to him, and will sup with him, and he with me. To him that overcometh will I grant to sit with me in my throne, even as I also overcame, and am set down with my Father in his throne."

 

When the temptation to come down from your cross comes, remember that you can overcome like Jesus overcame. How did He overcome? Hebrews 12:2 tells us that because of the joy set before Him, He endured the cross. He looked past the here and now by faith and looked to the future glory of our salvation. We can do the same; looking past our current temptation and situation to the future promise of glory. Or as Paul puts it: 

 

2 Corinthians 4:16-18
"For which cause we faint not; but though our outward man perish, yet the inward man is renewed day by day. For our light affliction, which is but for a moment, worketh for us a far more exceeding and eternal weight of glory; While we look not at the things which are seen, but at the things which are not seen: for the things which are seen are temporal; but the things which are not seen are eternal." 

Artist Spotlight: Scripture Says Acapella

For this week's artist spotlight, we travel over yonder to the midlands/Preston to shine the spotlight on a super talented group of young people who are doing great things!  

Hey guys, it's so awesome to have you here with us this week. Tell us about who you are.

We are 'Scripture Says'! An acappella group consisting of four members: Laura (soprano), Chido (alto), Tino (tenor) and Nigel (bass). We chose the name 'Scripture Says' as it reflects what we are aiming to do which is to spread the word of Christ. Following the text in Hebrews 4:12 which says : For the word of God is quick, and powerful, and sharper than any two-edged sword...' we want the words of our songs to directly impact the heart.


Wow! That is awesome! Can I just say, I'm a really big fan of yours & you guys inspire me so much! However for those who don't really know you yet, how long have you been doing music?

The first song Laura sang at church was when she was 8 years old, when she had a lead part in the church play ‘Owl Tale’ as a hedgehog. 

Chido was part of a marimba band when she was in the 4th grade, but started singing when she joined the school choir in Grade 6. 

Tino remembers singing in front of church with his mum and older brother from a very young age, until he felt embarrassed by the whole “singing-with-mum situation”. He joined a steel drum band in primary school which led to his interest in learning drums and guitar.

Nigel was in the 7th grade when he started a group called “Harmony Boys” where he was the lead soprano! Yes, SOPRANO!



Lol Nigel was the soprano??? How times have changed 😂😂😂 So tell me. how did you get started? And also why did you choose your very unique name? 

Scripture Says began in 2012 when Chido and Nigel, having previously sang together in a Coventry-based group called Calvary’s Calvary, met Laura and Tino who were active members of the Preston SDA music team. The group started off with 6 members and was very close to being called “Redeemed”, but the name Scripture Says stood out as a firm favourite. We all share a love for God, music and evangelism with a desire to spread God’s Word in a unique way.


So you've only been going for 4 and a half years give or take? Yet you've achieved so much in such a short space of time, although we'll come to that in a minute. You guys have a very unique style and sound, so I'm wondering about your influences. Who is your favourite Christian/gospel artist?

Laura – I’m a fan of some types of Christian contemporary music. I’d say my favourite band is Unspoken, I quite like their pop/rock sound

Chido – Jessica Reedy’s female bass does it for me

Tino –Jonathan McReynolds for his vocals and guitar skills

Nigel – Stand Music, an acappella group based in Zimbabwe


So a variety of styles blend together to make up the group, that's so cool! Also Tino, I have to co-sign on Jonathan McReynolds - one day (by God's grace) he'll appear on our channel and website and I'll have the distinct privilege of accompanying him! Anyway, still on the subject of influences, what is your favourite album and why?

Laura – Jonathan McReynolds, Life Music for its real and relatable message

Chido – Jessica Reedy, Transparent for her rawness and heavy lyrics

Tino – Erica Campbell, Help for her musicality

Nigel – Shower Power, The Journey for typifying the contemporary African acappella sound

That's great, I'm familiar with all those artists (though I need Jessica, Erica and Shower Power albums in my life!). I also need to check out Stand Music and Unspoken! I always get homework when I do this, I like it!

Moving on to songwriting, that's something very dear to my heart and you guys are (in my opinion) great and prolific! How many songs have you written so far? 


So many! We actually have a song bank of 30+ songs waiting to be refined and released. So watch this space!


Wow, that's awesome. Now I know Tino is beasting quietly on the guitar, but aside from that, do you guys play any other instruments?


Laura plays the violin; as well as the guitar Tino plays the drums; Nigel attempted learning the bass guitar but gave this up when he realised he could do more with his voice. Chido plays her iPod, and that’s about it.



LOL 😂 No shade there Chido! If there was one particular artist you could work with, who would it be and why?


Tough question. We are currently with some amazing, talented artists around the world. For our second album we are lining up collaborations with Riffi (South Africa), Tanaka Muza (Stand Music, Zimbabwe), and Natalie Jeffers, Jabez Walsh and Alvin Dawati, all based in the UK. One group that we would loooove to work with is our sister group, His Will!!!! They’re genuinely insane and it would be an honour. 



Amen, I'm glad to hear about both the local & international collaborations, can't wait to hear the results! Also I have to agree with you about 'His Will', like yourselves the sky is the limit for their talent! Moving on now, can you tell us 1 quirky thing about you?

There are a few quirky things about Scripture Says. Firstly we sing better when we don’t warm up… we don’t know why. Also we are a group of thrill-seekers, always looking for heart-racing things to do – like our recent Skydive for ADRA. Another quirky thing is our very bad habit of eating desserts after 2am, undoing all our good work with sugar 😕


Wow, that's interesting indeed! Who would you say is your biggest influence?


As a group, we do not have any artists that we can say are a main influence to our music. We all individually bring to the table such varying musical interests, influences and experiences, which we throw in a blender to create our unique sound. So in a way, our main musical influences are each other.

But, as our name suggests, the biggest influence to our mission and the heart of our ministry is the Word of God. It is this word in our hearts that is the theme of our songs, our source of creativity and inspiration. 


I like that...a lot!!! Your heart for ministry and unique talents will definitely take you places. Your gift will make room for you! What does 2017 hold for Scripture Says?

In 2017, we hope to begin finalising and recording the songs to go on our second album. We are also working in collaboration with Adventist Animator Natalie Jeffers, on a project where we will narrate in song the parable of the prodigal son. We also hope to release some music videos as the year progresses via our Youtube page. 
 


What! That sounds off the chain! Alvin Chea narrated an illustrated nativity which I saw at Christmas and that was amazing and powerful! I cannot wait to see what you guys come up with! Clearly music is a huge passion of yours, but apart from music, what would you say are your biggest passions?


Laura – my biggest passion is fashion design and all things creative. I have started up my own fashion brand called ‘Laura Jane Fashion’ and am in the process of sewing my 2017 summer collection – check this out on www.laurajanefashion.co.uk

Chido – my biggest passion is working to better the lives of people living in the poorest countries in the world. I currently work for a children’s charity and am blessed everyday to see differences being made in their lives and situations.

Tino – I am passionate about health and the human body. I enjoy learning about how complex the human body is and how this provides evidence for God’s design.

Nigel – I have a deep-rooted desire to facilitate children’s growth in Christ, which I do through being part of the leadership team for the Pathfinder and Adventurer clubs. I also have a love for the great outdoors, and frequently take opportunities to enjoy the beauty to be found in God’s creation.

That's great, you guys actually just make me feel so proud to know you! So we're wrapping up now, so let's get some quickfire questions about the group & the group dynamic out of the way. Ready? Set? Go! Who's the loudest in the group?


Definitely Laura! Laura is living proof that dynamite comes in small packages! She is loud, but brings so much life and energy to the group, rightfully earning the title “Chipmunk”. Not surprisingly, she also sings the loudest, coupled with her explosive runs, her ability to hit crazy high notes.



Lol the phrase "lickle but tallawah" comes to mind! Who's the joker of the group?

Laura is “full of Nonsense”, Chido is “The Savage”. Nigel is “The Inappropriate Joker”. Unfortunately, Tino is not that funny.



Lol your inside jokes are hilarious. Who's the deepest thinker?
 

Definitely Tino!  


Ok interesting! Tough one here, who is the most creative? 


We all have different areas of creativity. Nigel is our lead lyricist, and has written the most songs out of all of us. Chido comes up with the most interesting harmonies. Tino is amazing at coming up spontaneous melodies and additions to songs. Laura is our talented in-house graphic designer, responsible for our visual identity and overall look as a group.


Sounds like each of you really brings something different to the table. What's your proudest moment as a group been so far? 

Our biggest accomplishment was releasing our debut album – More than a Conqueror – in December 2015. For us it was about having something tangible to give to people who would ordinarily not step into church to hear our music. The album went on to be nominated for the ‘Best Religious Song’ category of the Contemporary Acappella Recording Awards (CARA) in 2016, for which we give God the glory.

Another proud accomplishment has been the results of our efforts to fundraise for the Adventist Relief and Development Agency (ADRA), a charity very close to our hearts. The four of us went skydiving in Cornwall to raise money and awareness for the issues faced by people in need. Through the massive support of our families, friends and church congregations, we managed to raise £3,424 towards supporting ADRA in changing lives around the world.

Yeah so that album is required listening for anyone who is serious about gospel music and Acapella. Do you guys have any upcoming gigs/dates to share?

We will be singing at Tottenham Music Day on Saturday June 3rd where the amazing singer and powerful evangelist from the USA, Jill Monae, will be ministering. If you are in the area, please do come along!
 

Thanks for joining us and sharing your amazing journey so far guys. You need to purchase their album and you can do that here: https://itun.es/gb/uHXr_ 

God bless you all!  

Meet the team: Akil Henry

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We're starting a new feature where we give you an introduction to the people behind One Sound Music, so you can know who they are. Today we're joined by the CEO of One Sound Music, Akil Henry.

Hey there, what's your name and tell  us a bit about yourself?

My name is Akil Andrew Adejamo (funny story about that name) Henry. What do you want to know? Errrr....I'm a musician. I play keys, do a bit of musical directing now and again, and very occasionally, I do vocal arrangements. I'm also the CEO of this lovely group of people we call One Sound Music.

 

Tell us a little bit about what One Sound Music is..

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One Sound Music's overall aim is to give a platform for artists to share their music with the world, specifically music that speaks of hope and love found in Jesus. We do this through a variety of services such as artist management, live events, and our flagship YouTube channel which currently has over 400,000+ views. We also create programs for churches in order to enhance their music and worship services such as songwriting workshops and musician masterclasses.

 

Ah I see, that's pretty amazing. So what is it specifically that you do for One Sound Music?

Anything that needs doing! But specifically, I'm responsible for artist management (taking care of Destiny and Paris), marketing and PR (getting our products out there and promoting ourselves), finance (making sure we don't lose all our money) and admin (organising files and things...which I love!).

 

When/how did you get involved?

 

So, I was actually there from the beginning...because my friend and I came up with the idea lol! Since the age of 18, I had this dream of being the head of a gospel music record label. I spoke to my friend Phil (the founder of the amazing vocal group Vade) and we came up with the idea of putting out an album. We spoke to our friends Tochi and Toni, and thus the idea of One Sound was borne...5 years later and we're still here!

 

Praise God! Ok, so people don't know a lot about the people behind the Music, so I'll ask some questions to give people a better feel for who you are. What would you say is your favourite hobby?

 

I guess you mean apart from anything musical right? Cause that's pretty much the majority of what I do outside of my 9 to 5! I play keys, listen to loads of different music etc etc. I love watching football - avid Chelsea fan right here! I also read the news a lot (HuffPost, BBC, The Root etc.) as well as books in general - I'm a super geek so I always want to learn new stuff (I love a good TedTalk). Currently learning Spanish, and (when I have time) trying to code a little bit as well. Social justice is super important to me too, so I like to discuss about issues concerning racism and sexism. 

 

Oh my goodness, I think I'll have to edit that bit about Chelski from the blog. Smh, Can you tell us 2 quirky things about yourself?

 

I really hate messiness, I don't have OCD, but I feel like I'm leaning towards it. I used to be super tidy and then stopped at uni...then a few months ago, a switch came back on and now I can't stand mess. So my room is always tidy now. Even my wardrobe, like the inside of it. Second quirky thing...I am a massive fan of quiz shows! The Chase, Who Wants To Be A Millionaire, University Challenge, all of them! I love it!

 

That's great, I also love The Chase and Who wants to be a Millionaire! What do you do for your day job?

I am a digital marketing analyst, which basically means that I use data to help clients make business decisions. Lol, jargon alert. Digital just means online, so I analyse online behaviour of users to help clients understand why people react to their site in various ways and where they should be spending their marketing budget essentially.

 

Ok so you analyse google, youtube and all that jazz? Cool beans! If you could be a superhero, who would you choose and why?

To be honest, I never really cared about superheroes...Jesus is my Superman! hey glory! Actually...Luke Cage. Being bulletproof would be lit! And it means I could stop gang violence amongst the brothers killing each other which would be awesome.

 

Lol 🙌🏾🙌🏾🙌🏾 That reminds me of Donald Lawrence's song 'Superman'. Anyway moving on, what would you say is your hidden talent?

Hidden talent?? These questions...I don't even think I have one. Everyone knows I do music, and that's about it! I guess I'm good at organising and planning events (when I don't take on too much!)

 

I'd personally say that you love to debate and perhaps it's a 'not so hidden' talent, but hey, what do i know lol. If you could go back to any time period, which one would you go to and why?

 

As a black person, I'm not sure whether going back to anytime in the last 400 years is a wise choice...however, if I'd have to say any era, I'd want to be around in the 19th Century when Beethoven and Chopin were dominating the classical world. Two phenomenal composers of unmatchable talent really. Chopin was the best writer for the piano ever in my opinion, and Beethoven was an absolute genius.

 

Wow, I hear that! If you could share 1 thing with the world, what would it be? 

 

The Autobiography of Malcolm X. Everyone needs to read that book. It's got everything in there. But most of all, it shows how just because you hold an opinion firmly, doesn't mean it can't be changed by reasoning it out, and it's actually a mark of honour to be able to publicly change what you believe and not be ashamed to admit it.

 

Thanks for joining us Akil and sharing with us. We hope to see more of you soon.