From pain comes gain in Worship Arts Showcase
Story and photos by Mark Heller
GCU News Bureau
This time, it was personal.
Inspired from sorrow, pain, angst and confusion — as the best songs and works of art often are — several of the 12 musical pieces performed for Wednesday night’s fall semester edition of the Worship Arts Songwriter Showcase at Grand Canyon University were somberly sourced and performed with raw emotion.
And from these came faith and hope.
More than 60 songs were auditioned this semester and narrowed to a dozen. A couple hundred people squeezed into the Grand Canyon Beverage Company to hear this stellar exhibition of songwriting, vocals, accompanying keyboards, guitars, percussion and even a miniature cello.
These 12 songs will be compiled with the dozen from the Spring 2016 showcase (24 total songs) and narrowed again for a 12-track CD compilation.
From Graham Harper’s opener “The Wilderness,” a nod to the anxiety of leaving Northern California for Arizona’s desert, to Katie Brown’s emotional and anthemic conclusions, “On My Knees” and “Abide with Me,” the 90-minute show told tales of the the writer’s own mental and emotional struggles:
- “Plans,” a song Casey Moreno wrote when he had “no idea what was going on in my life; nervous and lacked direction.”
- “Source of Living” was written when Milyssa Dela Cruz was recovering from a difficult knee surgery.
- Scot Madison Quiggle’s “Life Has to Be,” for those in the “almost not-ready stage of life most of us have felt.”
- Lade Kolawole wrote “Never Gonna Give Up” when “life went absolutely wrong.”
- Brown’s “Abide with Me” as a “place of helplessness where nothing is good.”
It was honest candor in songwriting with enough expressions of faith and belief that with God in our presence, everything just might turn out all right. Or, as Dela Cruz sang, “Right here in Your presence, my life is resurrected.”
Grand Canyon University assistant professor and Center for Worship Arts manager Dr. John Frederick found parallels of suffering and rejoicing between both the Bible and the GCBC stage. Channeling that energy, emotion and angst in displays such as Wednesday night is part of the creative process: struggle and salvation.
“There’s pain and suffering but hope, too, and articulating it in a human way is how robust and perceptive these students are,” Frederick said. “I’m glad we have a community where you can create, collaborate and be rewarded for thinking outside the box.”
Angel Morris recently watched a documentary about Pompeii called “The Last Day,” about the Mount Vesuvius volcano that destroyed the city in 79 A.D. She drew inspiration from the idea that “we build kingdoms and our lives, and when bad things happen we’re not prepared without some help from God. She found her parallel “lost universe” within her song, “Atlantis:”
If I was a city I’d be Atlantis
’cause I’m sinking under the waves
You are our savior, you walked on water
No ocean is as deep as your grace
Morris and Brown fittingly closed the program with impressive displays of songwriting, vocal range and stamina. Negativity may influence creativity, but the talent, collaboration and creativity on display Wednesday can be influential in its own right.
“We want to send them out and be excellent and positive influences in others’ lives,” Frederick said. “It’s perfect that all the (musical) styles are not just to emulate each other, but learn to think and create. Musicians and artists see the world differently, and that should be embraced.”
Fall 2016 Worship Arts Songwriter Showcase
Graham Harper: “Need Your Love” and “Wilderness”
Casey Moreno and Jessie Sams: “Plans”
Courtney Welker: “Prodigal’s Lullaby”
Reagan Capaci: “You Right”
Milyssa Dela Cruz: “Source of Living”
Megan Borges: “If It Breaks Your Heart”
Scot Madison Quiggle: “Life Has to Be”
Lade Kolawole: “Never Gonna Give Up”
Angel Morris: “Atlantis”
Katie Brown: “On My Knees” and “Abide with Me”
Contact Mark Heller at (602) 639-7516 or firstname.lastname@example.org