BY JOHN FLEMING
Times Performing Arts Critic
ST. PETERSBURG — Bruce G. Blowers wrote his first song at 10 years old. He called it God Made Everything. "It had two chords in the whole thing,'' he said.
Now Blowers is 22, and his first album, Through Glass, was released this week by Caravan Media, a label in DeLand that specializes in contemporary Christian music. "I'm a strong Christian and a firm believer,'' he said. "But there are a couple of tracks on the album that could potentially play on secular radio.''
He might be right about that. Through Glass is a slickly produced collection of 10 catchy pop songs, with Blowers singing and playing piano with a soft-rock group. His religious songs aren't heavyhanded, and the CD includes several with appeal beyond church youth groups, such as You.
"It's a love song for Christ, but with the title You and the lyric, it doesn't specify who it is about,'' Blowers said. "I think there are secular listeners out there who will hear it and think immediately of, you know, a girl, or a love song for anyone. That's why I went with the title of You, because I didn't want to specify. It's kind of a crossover tune.''
Another song with broad commercial potential is We Just Might Make It, a bouncy little love song that could be the theme for a show on the Disney Channel. "I wrote that one in an hour one day," he said. "I don't know where it came from, just a fun little tune.'
There will be a show for the release of Through Glass on Sunday at Faith Presbyterian Church in Seminole. Blowers and Amelia Sage, a band that also has a Caravan album out, as well as singer Matt Hires and guitarist Chris Della Penna, will perform.
Followers of classical music in the Tampa Bay area know Blowers as something of a prodigy. From 12 on he took music courses at St. Petersburg College, and he played oboe in the volunteer Tampa Bay Symphony and Florimezzo, an ensemble that brings together professional and student musicians. As a composer, his classical works were played by members of the Florida Orchestra and won some national awards. He has also been an actor, dancer and opera singer in local productions.
So his emergence as a soulful singer-songwriter of Christian pop music may come as a surprise. "Even I could not have predicted this ultimate step, no leap, into a new realm!'' Vernon J. Taranto Jr. said in a news release for Through Glass. Taranto, a composer and SPC professor of music, has long been Blowers' mentor.
On Saturday, Blowers will play oboe at the annual candlelight Christmas concert by the SPC Concert Chorus, Taranto conducting, at the Palladium Theater. The chorus will also premiere Blowers' Celebration of Christmas.
Blowers is unfailingly polite, calling an interviewer "sir.'' He lives at home with his parents in St. Petersburg and works as middle school band director at Grace Lutheran School, as well as conducting the church's women's choir and bell choir. His sister, Brianne, 19, sings and plays flute on Through Glass. She and Bruce are also featured actors on Walk on Water, a Christian TV show about college kids filmed in Clearwater Beach.
"I'm playing a character named Lance who is about my age,'' Blowers said. "His faith is kind of on the fence. He's not really sure what he believes. It was very interesting to portray this character who is kind of a rebel and has a really hard outer shell.''
John Fleming can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org or (727) 893-8716. He blogs on Critics Circle at blogs.tampabay.com/arts.