Tonight, I drove to the other side of town to see Michael English in concert. (It was actually close to the Stamps-Baxter end of town.)
The concert was at Una Baptist Church. I'd never been there before, and once I got in the area, I had that uniquely Nashville problem: I hit a strip of churches, all next door to each other, all with very similar names. I only had to go to 2 before finding the right one, but I did end up with a very nice invitation to a Spanish fellowship night.
Una Baptist Church is quite beautiful, with a not-too-large sanctuary, perfect for an intimate concert. And I just need to get this out right away: Michael English has one of the most amazing voices I've ever heard. I'd heard recordings, but nothing prepared me for this live performance. It's a really incredible instrument. It's strong and soulful, and he has a very precise control over it. Very, very impressive!
He started with a few songs, and then moved on to "Mary, Did You Know." (Michael was the first to record this song.) He introduced his family, and his 3-year-old little girl nearly stole the show with her rendition of "You are my Sunshine". He does a real mix of southern gospel, black gospel, CCM, and hymns that have been all funked up. Love those hymns!
In some ways, he wasn't what I expected. His voice is incredible, but I thought his stage presence would be more polished. Instead, he was a guy who just told stories about his life. He talked about some of the problems of his past, and how he is now choosing to approach life with complete honesty. When he brought up guest soloist, Christopher Lee, for a song, he admitted that part of the reason for having a guest soloist was because he needed a break. He said that his body can't sing as high or long as it used to, so now he takes a little break in his shows. How many musicians would admit that?
An honest Christian musician. What a novel concept!
After seeing the 'mix' of Christian musicians I saw this week at GMA, Michael was a reminder that brilliant talent is best used for God when used with genuine intentions and an honest spirit. At one point he talked about his resume. Years ago, he would tell people he had a brilliant resume. Now, he says, his resume is terrible, but he is better equipped for the job of ministering the Gospel than ever before.
Isn't that the goal?