A group from Cape First Assembly of God Church is singing a CD of new of praise that will be released nationwide in mid-September. The CD comes with an accompanying DVD and set of chord charts and lyrics.
Single releases from the debut CD "To Know Your Heart" are already playing on radio stations across the country, said Brent Anderson, worship pastor at Cape First and who wrote eight of the 12 songs on the album. The musical team has a contract with the Devotion Music Label in partnership with Universal Music Group Distribution. Nationally recognized Christian musician Billy Smiley produced the album.
Some might say it's coincidence that so many talented musicians all belong to the same church; they got together to form a band; and they were discovered by a Grammy-nominated musician to sign with a national music group. Anderson and his wife, Sharon, don't think it's coincidence at all.
"God is always in control," they said.
It all started about a year and a half ago when senior pastor, the Rev. Gary Brothers, asked the Andersons to put together an album that would be printed locally and that the church would sell maybe a thousand copies of as a mission project.
Sharon, who had for seven years been a program director for International Worship Institute in Dallas, thought of a man she had met at one of the institute's conferences. She had struck up a friendship with a musician who had played with a youth group there. She just knew him as Billy.
So she called him and asked.
"She had been talking on the phone with Billy," Brent said, "and then I realized that's Billy Smiley! Billy Smiley of White Heart, who has sold over two million albums."
Sharon had no idea her friend Billy from her time with the International Worship Institute was someone so well known, who would produce the album and record a spoken introduction on it.
Smiley had also included one of Brent's songs, "Coming Reign" on a concept CD he put together, "Reign Down USA." Two or three weeks later, he said, Smiley called and said Devotions was interested in Anderson's songs and wanted to hear more. Universal later called and offered them a contract, taking what was going to be a small, church-produced project to heavenly heights.
"They listened to our song, liked it and said they wanted to hear the rest," Brent said. "They were hearing a half-finished project. It was not mixed, and we didn't have the tracks down."
The musical team is made up of housewives, teachers, students and other church members who come together in church as musicians. The response in the background of the songs is genuine, Brent said. It came from the Cape First congregation reacting naturally to the music and the words.
"The team made it all work, not me, not any one person," Brent said. "We all come together and we just work really well together. It's an amazing, amazing blessing."
Now with national distribution, the album can go further than anyone had previously imagined.
"God has given us an incredible opportunity for this season," Brent said. "We are going to be as good stewards and do with what he has given us the best we can do. Music is a tool to teach generations, and we want to go into the world and we want to make the message real and we want to be real. I as worship pastor believe worship and praising God is the highest privilege and honor we could have. Our goal is not to promote us, but to promote him."
Cape First will host a prerelease live concert and celebration at the church Sept. 14, where copies of the CD will be sold that day only. After that, it won't be available until Sept. 16, the official release date, when it will be available in most stores.
Whatever profit the church makes from the sale of the CD will be used for missions, to bring Christian music to all parts of the world and the nation.
Brent said he has been writing songs since he was 12 and learned to play the piano at age 3. He hopes the next album — and there will be a next album — will be completely of songs written by him. Sharon plays drums in the band sometimes, but mostly she works behind the scenes helping promote and market the album and managing the project. Brent worked construction for 11 years before he became a worship pastor at a church in Southern California and later came to Cape First.
Both find the whole experience mind-boggling.
"We're just absolutely floored," Brent said. "We were not expecting any of this. We're just going along for the ride to see where it takes us."
335-6611, extension 160
Want to go?
* What: Prerelease concert and celebration of the release of "To Know Your Heart"
* When: 5 p.m. Sept. 14
* Where: Cape First, 254 S. Silver Springs Road