How long have you been around?
We have been playing for 5 years now, though we have been through one or two changes in musicians.
How did you get started?
We first got together at a religious music workshop. We spent some time between sessions playing some songs, and decided to make a go of it as a religious music group. For the first few months we focused on covering the music of other, established religious artists, with a few new arrangements of old time hymns thrown in for texture. It wasn’t until year 2 that we started to write and produce our own songs, but since then original music has grown to be more than 60% of our typical set.
Do you still play old style religious music?
Yes. Typically we try to include covers, original music and at least one arrangement of an old time hymn in each set. We have several hymn based medleys that are popular at our concerts. We do alter the content of our sets to match the venue at hand, and there are some sets we perform where no hymns are included at all.
What does it take to get started in religious music?
That is a complex question, but we see it like this. To be a success in religious music, you need:
- Motivation: You need to be properly motivated. Music is a hard way to make a living and religious music has more opportunities for losing money than other genres. If you are looking to get rich, you need to look somewhere else. But if you are looking to use your time and gifts in a meaningful way that might one day become a viable career, you are looking in the right place.
- Musicianship: The message may be the most important part of a religious music performance, but if you don’t have the skills to make it worth listening to, no one is going to listen. Practice, attend master classes and continue taking lessons. Just because you are performing religious music does not mean you get a pass on basic music skills.
- Commitment: This is true of any difficult endeavor. If you don’t have what it takes to stay the course, stay at home. You will need to dedicate many hours per week in rehearsal and practice sessions, and traveling to venues is always time consuming.
Do you play any venues for free?
When we started out, most of our dates were free or for free will offerings. That was just part of paying our dues, getting our name out there and building a base of people who were committed to the journey. Now, after 5 years of playing and traveling, we are to the point that most of our dates are for full ticket price, which varies depending on the venue. This allows us to expand our outreach and gets us closer to the goal of being performers 12 months out of the year.
However, we are also committed that at least 10% of our dates continue to be free, partly to keep us in touch with our beginnings, and partly to keep us from becoming all about the cash and the crowds.