Thursday, February 19, 2009

Christopher Heidler and Friends do Christian

  Hiya - and apologies to anyone actually reading this - I have not posted here in awhile. As of January 26 I am among the increasingly popular ranks of the unemployed... downsized because most of my company's clients were afraid or banking-impaired to do new projects. Since I have been working on mostly natural gas pipeline projects as a mapping designer, and people haven't stopped needing heat this winter, it doesn't make a lot of sense to me. But then, the economic gyrations of late seem to have little to do with logic anyway. Let's see, these people over here ruined the economy buying worthless paper, so let's give them lots more, of public money we have to borrow? Is anyone really looking out for the many "little guys" who got hurt? Maybe the stimulus bit will actually restart things. We'll see.
  It would appear that I'd have more time to do this, but then there's that whole looking-for-a-job thing. Eh. So.

  This seems an appropriate time to post a few words on religious music. Faith is a necessity at times like these, or at least the need is more in-your-face obvious. I can only speak with some certainty when evaluating that which is identifiable as Christian, since that is my background. I might later get into my take on some others, but with the caveat that I don't claim to have as much understanding of say, Hindu or Islamic music. I do recall about 30 years ago hearing an LP record done by the Shankar family (yes, Ravi Shankar's family) with lines like "I am missing you; Oh Krishna where are you?" and "Jaya jagadish hare, Jaya Jagadish hare..." or something like that. I think it was part of "Shankar Family & Friends", recorded in 1974. As a Christian, I felt a little weird about listening to it. At the same time, I was aware that Christian worship music could be having the same effect on someone with a different background. Maybe even the culturally-sophisticated Shankars. So it seemed only right, with Christianity asking others to consider its claims, to try to examine where they are coming from as well.

  Maybe it has something to do with being a Southerner that draws me to Christopher Heidler's worship music. Maybe it's the fervent genuine longing-for-the-divine quality that matters to me. Maybe it's how professionally well-done the results are from these obviously devoted folks from Georgia, USA. Probably all of those. Badly written or performed music, done ever so earnestly, doesn't make me want to listen to it. Neither does a polished recording with zero soul. Heidler's CD is well-done in every way that counts, with feeling. It's not only his work (Mike Kinnebrew's compositions are a major portion) but a group of close-knit, talented individuals. I'd like to say Lindsay Kinnebrew's brief vocal foreground appearance in "Wait for You" is exquisite. And I'm not just saying these things because it's hard to pan music related to religion. This is more about faith than religion... there is a difference.
  Going to the website of the Passion Church ( mentioned on the CD, I notice it's a fairly slick site, shows happy people and people praying for each other with hands raised to heaven, and has a repetitive riff playing on an endless loop that's seemingly designed to irritate the hell out of you. At one point I saw a mute button for it, which should be on every page. I'd like to suggest they use some of the beautiful stuff from the worship instead, rotating a much larger set of tunes. I liked the goal stated as a text from Luke 10:27 - "Love the Lord with all your heart and with all your soul and with all your strength and with all your mind, and love your neighbor as yourself." That's what Yashua of Nazareth said was the most important law, something I wish all His followers took seriously.  

  To get back to Chris and this CD: Southern but not bogged in some self-conscious "Southern" tradition, inventive but not bizarre, passionate without raving, mellow and gentle without being a bore. Genuine. Good music any way you listen to it.  
  In 2004 I was searching for music to keep my head moving while I was working in front of the computer. I was on another site - it might have been but I'm honestly not sure any more - and was referred to where you can hear one song by Chris and that's about it. The site is primarily presenting itself as a worship resource, and very little is said about any of the artists and their work (hint - y'all could stand to work on that). I ordered this CD anyway, and haven't regretted it a bit. Everyone I've played it for has been delighted to hear it, and I haven't witnessed that consistency of approval very often at all. I'm thinking it's time for another one? I know you can't force it. But when faith meets a need, things happen. A few years ago, a friend at work was finishing leading a youth worship in his church. At the last minute, the pastor sent him a message that he needed him to do a "special music" moment to open the main service. As soon as he had gotten the message and was racking his brain to know what to do, a partition slid back, the spotlight hit him and he turned to face the audience with his guitar. At that moment, having nothing from his mind to work with, he was given a song of his soul, an elegant one, perfect for that time, and just did it. It doesn't often happen that way, but I have been told several times that a tune of mine, presented for the first time at worship, prepared the listeners for the exact message they would be hearing next - which I had no clue about beforehand. My point, I guess, is that thing about "ask and it shall be given you" can very much apply to art, and sometimes it's given without you even knowing to ask. There's a divine flow there. And Christopher Heidler's self-titled CD is in it.

CD Name: Christopher Heidler
I behold the love of God
Boast about this
Praise the Lord, O my soul
Great is Your Faithfulness
How Wonderful
Come to Me
Wait for You
I am an Offering

Chris Heidler on guitars and lead vocals
Tony Otero and Chris on Bass
John Brockham on drums
Lindsay Kinnebrew on background vocals
  He has some neat links to others on there.
Chris teaches guitar at Atlanta Christian College, and sometimes plays guitar with Mike Kinnebrew's band:

Give 'em a listen. If you have any interest whatsoever in Christianity, you'll get into what is being said... if not, they're still enjoyable artists. Try some.