Artist of the day: Canaan
Christianity and homosexuality: two words not often used together in a harmonious context.
Canaan, however, celebrates both as a musical act with uplifting and spiritual messages. The band strives to unite all with no discrimination toward gender or sexual preference.
"It's amazing how many wonderful, talented, gifted people we've met on our journey and some of them, have in the past been kicked out of the church, or chastised for their lifestyle," Canaan singer and keyboardist Melanie Wilkinson says. "I've seen more people renew, reignite their faith in God since meeting Canaan."
Wilkinson had experienced loss and troubled times in the aftermath of coming out. Peace and better times came when her path crossed with those of David Lee and James Blanchard, singers and multi-instrumentalists.
"It was in November 2004," Wilkinson recalls. "I was singing solo as JustMel and was booked to sing for a homeless benefit concert in Gulfport at the Catherine Hickman Theater. I met David, who was at the time, music director of a Metropolitan Community Church in Lakeland. He asked me to come and lead praise and worship as a special guest at his church. James was visiting the church that day."
The band has performed GLBT events and churches, and recently composed a song for HIV awareness (read more about it canaanband.com). Canaan‚Äôs new release Shine is due for release in two weeks.
"If we walk more in that confidence of who we are, then we can see social and spiritual change in all around us," Wilkinson says. "I want us to hold our heads high and be proud."
Hear Canaan Saturday 10:30 a.m. at the Pride Fest stage at Central Avenue and 26th Street in St. Petersburg.
-- Julie Garisto, tbt*