When substance meets style, the result can be divine.
In January 2008, a group of musicians formed God's Chozen, a nondenominational Christian band that aims to blend the biblical lyrics of old-school hymns with the catchy sounds of today. The seven singers and 10 musicians had found that most Contemporary Christian music pleased their ears but left their souls wanting more.
"I think the message is being lost behind the beat of the song," said G.C.'s founder and lead singer, Emile Davis, 34, of Tampa. So the musicians, a collection of Tampa Bay friends that includes three married couples and a pair of sisters, writes music that addresses their own lives. They perform at churches, religious conferences and mainstream festivals.
In August, G.C. released its debut album, Take Off Your Mask, a mix of gospel, urban, rock and other genres.
"It's fun," said alto Victoria Maxwell, 20, of St. Petersburg. "I like acoustic indie rock, and I enjoy the (CD)."
The title track is a techno song referencing Matthew 7, a chapter of the New Testament that scolds hypocrites. Running After You, a duet ballad between Emile and his wife, 28-year-old alto Al'ecia Davis, talks about searching for God. In the Name of Jesus is a saxophone-infused jazz piece that encourages to listeners to "say yes to the Lord."
For several group members, saying yes to the Lord has meant saying no to churches that did them wrong. Al'ecia and her sister, 31-year-old soprano Makeda Hill-DuBose, both recalled being let down by religious leaders. Their disappointment fuels songs like Help Is on the Way, in which Emile croons, "God has not forgotten us. He said he would take care of us." The group's other singers are Leah Lewis, Deon Lewis and Elijah McCloud.
Singing about the Almighty and attending various churches on Sundays is just the beginning. Every weekday at 6 a.m., the members of G.C. hold a teleconference to pray and read Scripture. Tuesdays, they fast. And on performance days, they leave the TV off and pray instead.
By calling themselves God's Chozen, the musicians don't mean to sound holier-than-thou.
"We got tired of church being regular church," Emile said. "We felt that we were chosen for this day and age, for this generation."