[notice]A PE band whose heart is to ‘bring Heaven to Earth” shares with Gateway News reporter Jessica Spronk about the process of stewarding what God has been giving them over a period of years and releasing their first album.[/notice]
Gateway News recently met up with the band ‘Singing Our Stories’ of The Edge Vineyard to discuss their long awaited, live worship album recording which took place at the newly-built Fountain Recording Studio at Fountain Vineyard Church in Port Elizabeth.
How did the band start?
“Our intention was never really to be a band as such. We were all in the same house church and were just really great friends who shared a love for song writing and worship. At the time, our church was focusing on being ‘better together’ and, as we started building community and building relationships, things just started to happen naturally. It was never a formal thing of getting a band together or choosing certain people — we just realised that within our house church, we all had something unique and authentic to bring when it came making music together.”
Where did the name ‘Singing Our Stories’ come from?
“We really wanted to write and sing songs about what God was doing in our church and in our community, rather than just sing about what He was doing around the world. We wanted to capture the real testimonies of what God is doing right here. Even when we decided to record, we spoke a lot about ownership as a community and as a church. We wanted everyone to be a part of what we were doing because we all have a story to tell. All of us journal or are able to write things down and just because there’s no music with it, doesn’t mean it can’t be a song. I think that’s why we chose to do a live recording. We wanted to over-emphasise how much better things are when you do them together, especially in worship.”
What was your song writing process?
“God really spoke to us about everyone having something to say, but being limited by not knowing how to play instruments etc. So we decided to put it out to the church by asking them to share their stories with us either in the form of scriptures, rough lyrics or journaling. We then used our giftings to mould those words into lyrics, melodies and chords. Some of our songs were written back in 2014 and have been a work in progress ever since. We would test our songs out at church and at the Burn 24/7 worship events and play around with different chords and melodies until we were happy. We really focused on using our strengths to make each song the best it could be. And I think that is another benefit of doing things in community; we all have different strengths and flavours which are able to achieve far more than if it were just a few of us. When it came to recording our album, by using different songs from different stories, we are able to have an album full of songs about the different characteristics of God. Some of our songs bring a sense of awe, others are songs of celebration and some are songs about breakthrough and warfare.”
What is your advice to other songwriters/bands/churches?
“I think it’s important to note that this wasn’t something that happened overnight. We’ve been dreaming and working on our songs for years up to this point when God made this opportunity available to us. It takes a lot of time and effort, but ultimately, God blesses those who steward what He’s given them faithfully. For us, we felt that the time had come that if we didn’t record what God was doing, that we would lose all that He had given us. There will never be the right time or the right season, you have to just start. And don’t think that God will give you a whole song in one moment. Just write down every little piece He gives you and eventually it will become something as you spend more time working on it. It’s also so important to surround yourself with a safe and loving community of people who are knowledgeable about songwriting that you can use as a sounding board for lyrics or melodies. Brian Doerksen once said a brilliant thing about writing songs, he said “Rather treat your songs like plants and not like your babies – it’s less traumatic when someone kills your plant.” And it’s so true! You can’t get so attached or so protective over your songs that when someone has a suggestion, you completely shut down. Song writing is a process!”
What is the ‘sound’ of your album?
“We wanted our songs to be easily accessible to any worship team to use as a resource, so the general structure of each song is made up of simple chords and scripture-based lyrics. A lot of our songs were written back when our worship team was made up of only a guitar and a djembe so nothing is over-complicated. We’re still in the process of figuring out what our sound is, but our mission is for our songs to bring Heaven down to Earth. We want our songs to create an atmosphere of His presence where you can worship freely.”
What do you believe is the ‘song’ of Port Elizabeth?
“I think we really feel the song of Port Elizabeth is a song of Hope. We would love to see hope catch on in our communities as well as the realisation that He’s not finished with us yet. Even in the natural, we’ve seen the recent change of leadership in the city and the movement that is currently happening in politics. There’s been a whole generation of people who have had the opportunity to move overseas or out of Port Elizabeth, but have chosen to stay because they want to make a difference. And when we start digging into what God is doing here, we will start discovering new things and discovering our unique sound. We do believe Port Elizabeth has something that a lot of other cities don’t have, and that is the relationships between churches. We are a close worship community who are all after the same thing – Kingdom.
Singing Our Stories debut album will be released at the end of October 2016 and will soon be available on iTunes and Google Play for download.