Canyon Worship artists value performing in concert
By Rick Vacek
GCU News Bureau
Relatively speaking, she’s an old pro at performing in public.
But even Brown admitted to being nervous Friday as she prepared for the first Canyon Worship East, an endeavor by the College of Theology to give the East Valley a taste of what is already well-known on campus: These student artists are talented.
“Chapel’s amazing because of having all those people,” she said, “but this is a bit more personal.”
Personal and fulfilling at the same time.
“It’s cool to be able to share in a different setting, to be able to share a verse and the story behind it and to be able to share the song at my own pace. It’s a different aspect than Chapel, different from church.
“It’s cool that we get to share the back story, too – where it came from and share a little bit more than just a melody.”
And that’s why it’s a cool idea to have students perform outside the GCU Recording Studio. Dr. Randall Downs hatched the idea last summer after he took over as Worship Arts Coordinator, and last fall they took their show on the road to the West Valley.
Friday night they went the other direction, to Compass Christian Church in Chandler, which has several GCU connections: The Weekend Experience Pastor, Rick Calcutt, is a GCU graduate and has been an adjunct faculty member for the last decade; Geoff Hunker, one of the producers of the Canyon Worship albums, is on the staff there; and GCU Recording Studio Manager Eric Johnson belongs to that church.
“I’ve got a lot of history with GCU,” Calcutt said.
The Worship Arts students have begun a new chapter in GCU’s history with their work for the Canyon Worship albums, and Downs wants to continue the educational process.
“They’ve written these songs, but a lot of times they haven’t had the opportunity to get to perform these songs and really share what God has laid on their heart,” he said. “It’s one thing to write a song for the Lord. A lot of times we do that and we just sing and it’s just between the Lord and me, and those are good things.
“But this is an opportunity to take those songs that the Lord has laid in their hearts and share them in a community setting. I think that’s massive. It takes a lot of faith, it takes a lot of courage to say, ‘This is a song that God has laid on my heart, now let me share it with you.’ Because you’re always going to have that factor of, ‘Are people going to accept my song? Are people going to enjoy the song?’
“That’s not what it’s about – it’s about glorifying God with your song. But it still takes that faith and courage to do it, so I think it’s a big step for these students and a great development/building opportunity.”
The students performed eight songs Friday. Brown did two – “Goes Before” off Canyon Worship 2018 and “Come Up Here,” one of the songs chosen for this year’s Canyon Worship album, which is in the production process.
Another CW 2019 song preview was “Omnipresent,” sung by Emma Terlizzi.
Two of the other performers from last year’s album, Chris Calderon and Johnny Harris, also were on stage Friday. Calderon did his “Hear Me” with a fun adjustment – because they didn’t have an organ, he had Carter Ruch, whose stage name is Don Carter, sing part of it as a rap song.
“We didn’t have the organ solo, so we said, ‘Hey, Carter, you want to rap on this?’” Calderon said.
Another benefit of performing off-campus, Calderon added, is to get more advice from people like Hunker, who tours with Satellites & Sirens and showed his enormous stage presence during two short worship sets Friday.
“Having people who have been at the top and know what it’s like, it’s really helpful,” Calderon said.
And there’s another benefit, according to Harris:
“Just having people encourage you afterward, say thank you – you don’t get that at a lot of places you perform.”
Contact Rick Vacek at (602) 639-8203 or [email protected].