APOLLO BEACH — Stan Wilkerson has played with some of the top 10 most recognized symphonies in the nation.
He's shared the stage alongside some of the world's most recognized musicians — Stevie Wonder, YoYo Ma and Aretha Franklin — just to name a few.
But it's his latest song, Unstoppable, that the trombonist, vocalist and songwriter believes will leave that lasting mark in his career.
The Savannah native, who now serves as the music director for Calvary Lutheran Church in Apollo Beach, is using the song to drive proceeds toward Community Cupboard, a food pantry that's been in service for more than 20 years and has ministered to tens of thousands per year.
Unstoppable was released Aug. 1 on iTunes, Amazon and Google, among others. All indications, according to Wilkerson, lead to a good start for the song.
The song, described "as the universal anthem for the church," was born out of a specific idea that began in Brownsburg, Ind., at Connection Pointe Christian Church while a new children's wing was being built. Inspired by the Book of Acts, the veteran musician wanted a song that would unite the community.
However, before he could finish the recording, Wilkerson was sent to Los Angeles to work on a project and then had to finish the lyrics to Unstoppable at a studio in Tampa.
"I was just moved by what the church could do," he said. "This is the church in action and this is what it's about."
Wilkerson has been the music director at Calvary Lutheran for eight months. After traveling the world playing his music, the father of two decided it was time to settle down. Prior to his current role, the musician, on average, spent 250 to 300 days a year on the road or playing a local gig.
"My daughter was 3 at the time and I realized that she only saw me for one hour a day," Wilkerson said. "I needed to slow down. And, that took me back to her and life in the church."
So far, the slowdown is taking some getting used to, but Wilkerson believes he's home. And the church certainly appreciates his presence and ambition.
"Stan Wilkerson brings not only extensive professional music experience but also a deep-rooted Christian faith that makes his musical ministry such an integral part of Calvary's Sunday services," said Ellen Kleinschmidt, a Calvary member and well-known local performer. "He has a unique gift of blending contemporary and traditional Christian music in a variety of musical styles including gospel and jazz.
"Stan's musical leadership is unique in that, although he sings and plays a variety of instruments, he often accompanies the congregation most beautifully on trombone. Calvary Lutheran Church is blessed to have Stan Wilkerson leading music worship and sharing his special talent."
Wilkerson grew up in the church and was always engulfed in music. By age 6 or 7, he began tinkering with various instruments, but by fifth grade he fell in love with the sounds of the trombone. Years later, he earned his bachelor's degree in music from Florida State University and his master's degree in classical trombone performance from The Peabody Conservatory in Baltimore.
The trombone may be his instrument of choice, but picking a favorite genre of music is not as easy.
"I've never been able to narrow myself down to one genre," he said, adding that playing as not only a soloist, but a stand-in for various acts over the years widened his range. "Before I knew it, I was just playing all kinds of different music."
And although Wilkerson may be "settled," he still plays at churches and other venues throughout the country. But his song Unstoppable, he believes, is reaching far more fans through its single release than he ever could through touring and singing its lyrics live.
"I'd like to do more with writing and getting my music out there," he said. "Right now, I'm letting the music go farther than I ever could."
Contact Crystal Owens at [email protected]