Dallas, Texas — Music industry mogul Shanti Das and the American Heart Association are teaming up to bring awareness to heart disease and stroke, the social determinants of health and opportunities to become a volunteer ambassador for community change in honor of Martin Luther King, Jr. National Day of Service, Monday, January 16.
Das, who is one of the newest national ambassadors for the American Heart Association’s EmPowered To Serve™ movement, is featured in Take Me Home, a short video docuseries produced by the Association in collaboration with MIRAR. The video, which also includes R & B songstress Demetria McKinney, chronicles Das’ life growing up in a food desert in Peyton Forest, a community of Atlanta, Georgia.
Heart disease, including stroke is the No. 1 killer of all Americans, and African Americans and Hispanics are at increased risk compared to other populations. All too often, people in urban communities suffer from diabetes, high blood pressure and obesity leading to heart disease and stroke at much higher rates than their Caucasian counterparts. In too many of the communities there are barriers to heathy living such as, lack of access to large grocery stores with fresh fruits and vegetables; lack of access to safe, places to exercise and lack of equitable heath care.
“After learning about the social determinants of health, I decided to learn more about how that may have impacted the community where I grew up. In the process, I learned that I basically grew up in a food desert, which is a community without easy access to healthy food options. This is driving a lot of health issues in my community such as high blood pressure, diabetes, heart disease and stroke,” says Das, CEO and founder of Press Reset Entertainment. “In fact, I found that 2 million Georgians, including 500,000 children live in food deserts. There are more than 35 food deserts just in the perimeter of Metro-Atanta.”
Das moved back to Atlanta after working for many years in New York. She will work with the American Heart Association to raise health awareness in the community and to work with civic leaders to remove the barriers to heathy living where healthier options will be more accessible. “I want to make sure that my generation is going “home” and helping their communities to get active and making sure they have the proper access to healthy living that they need,” she says.
A private viewing of the Take Me Home video documentary was held on January 10 at DJ Drama’s Mean Street Studios in Atlanta to an intimate list of supporters including: Rashan Ali, Stevie Baggs, DJ Drama, Tameka Foster, Ceasar Mitchell, Kawan Prather and Ebony Steele.
For more information about becoming an EmPowered To Serve volunteer ambassador, visit EmPoweredtoserve.org. Choose an action. Make an impact.
I was told a story recently of an internationally celebrated Christian musician whose name I will withhold. I was told that he turned down an invitation to minister at an event organized by an internationally known church for a very unique reason. I have never heard of such a reason given before in the little time I have spent in music. In fact I was initially proud of the reason considering it as bold and daring but looking into the whole matter critically, I began to find issues with it. Now, I have only heard from one of the parties on the matter but considering the other party, I am confident that there is a high probability that this story is a fact. From what I was told, the artiste said that if there was going to be a red carpet at the event then he wouldn’t come because it was obviously going to be a jamboree.
The reason given by this artiste was considered harsh and uncalled for by the church folks; personally I would have felt insulted. Unfortunately, that’s how many Christian musicians feel after making contact with some other Christian musicians. I have seen a trend in the body of Christ where Christian musicians look down on each other, one classifying the other as unrighteous, unholy and unserious simply because they all have different orientations on certain words, expressions and mannerisms. It is this disdain among us that I intend to deal with in this piece.
The 21st century church has succeeded in interpreting certain words and expressions wrongly thereby making these words sound evil and unholy and consequently making those who use and practice these expressions look ungodly and unrighteous. With this article, I intend to zero in on the misinterpretations that occur in music circles, especially Christian music circles. Another purpose for this write-up is to deal with this strife among Christian musicians (church musicians and Christian itinerary musicians). After discussing these expressions it will become apparent that our attempt at portraying holiness is simply replacing spirituality with religion, having the form of godliness rather than actually being the righteousness of God in Christ Jesus; a fit that cannot be attained by human effort.
Overtime I have heard musicians condemn the use of this word. I have in fact condemned the art of performance in the days when I had limited knowledge in the field of music. Today, the church describes performance as singing, dancing or acting a God based piece without the semblance of spirituality in the performer’s expression or demeanor. It is due to this definition that praise/worship leaders say things like “let us be in the mood of worship” and some say prayers like, “….oh Lord don’t let us perform, let us minister and touch lives”. I remember myself making prayer points like this but looking back, I find it so hilarious. We will discuss the concept of ministry and ministration later but let me make it clear at this point that performance is simply the art of doing that same thing you did during your rehearsal but this time on a stage, in from of people and with minimal mistakes.
In a sincere but misguided bid to sound holy and yielded, musicians have painted performance as evil and without God. Let me shock you by saying that preaching a sermon and even the working of miracles are referred to as performances. Yes, miracles can be rehearsed; Ex 4:2 records Moses and the Almighty God rehearsed a miracle in preparation of a performance before Pharaoh. People of God, performance is neither a bad act nor a bad word. Do not consider people who use the word ‘perform’ as carnal simply because other carnal people have damaged the art. The fact that I try to deliver excellently on stage doesn’t mean I am doing it without the help of God.
Some time back, in 2014 I was chatting with a fellow musician and we began to talk about his career as a drummer. He told me he had to leave his former church where he functioned as a drummer because of their music. I told him I wasn’t happy with him because I don’t believe people should base their choice of church on music. As we talked however, I found out that his reason was solid. He functioned in the choir as the drummer but he wasn’t growing as a drummer. In fact the choir was dragging him down. They refused to rehears properly simply because they believed that all they had to do was learn the song and let God handle the rest on Sunday. Their choice of song was not based on lyrics or divine instruction but was based on simplicity. They didn’t want to stress themselves by learning how to modulate or swap parts. They just wanted simple crowd moving songs that they could sing with ease and have the congregation join them in tears or dancing.
It is sad that so called musicians today are too lazy to work out their music. Music is born out of creativity and creating something worthwhile is never easy. Artistry has been thrown away in some churches today, that’s why you often hear stuff like “please don’t mind my voice, just listen to the lyrics”, or “it’s not about the music oh Lord, let them be touched by the spirit”. My dear Man of God, if the music is that irrelevant, why not just preach straight away (even spoken word requires artistry). Musicians today are comfortable with mediocrity because that’s what the market is asking for. Artistes now recycle beats and progressions, change the lyrics, write two weak lines, and release it as a single; do that 5 times and you have yourself an album. Nobody wants to work anymore. We have come to an era now where almost everybody is hiding under the canopy of short choruses and chants. Because people like Ada, Godswill Otuonye, William McDowell, Frank Edwards and some others have written exceptional and powerful short songs, everybody thinks it’s a short cut to activating the power of God during ministrations. My people do not be deceived, “the fastest route to success is understanding that there is no shortcut to success.”
The first record of the spirit of God being released upon a man in the scriptures is in Ex 31:1-5 and even God had to admit that the man was very skillful in his art. Please my dear musician, always strive to be at the top of your game, and always try to deliver excellence. Being very Good at what you do doesn’t make you any less spiritual.
Back in the days, moving a congregation to tears was quite easy. All you had to do was cast 4 people in a drama, have two of them put on white garments and serious faces, have another person put on a black garment and a malignant face, then have the fourth person looking sad while “book of Life” by Pastor Nath plays in the background. Before the bridge of the song, the church would be flooded with the tears of the congregation and by the end of the song; the altar would be filled with repentant souls even without an altar call.
Sadly, in this day and time, before you can pull any emotion from the congregation other than boredom or criticism, you would have to employ certain special effects with real tears and real props. I don’t know whether it’s because our generation is hardened or that we are too attached to sights and sounds. Whatever the reason may be, an artiste must go the extra mile to drive his point home. Presently, there are people who condemn the use of special effects during concerts and in churches claiming that it undermines the power of God. They may have a point oh; certain Christian concert organizers work without the understanding that God can move amongst His people independent of special effects. However we must not totally write-off special effects in that they trigger the mind into yielding to the spirit. In scripture we have seen divinity manifest silently without bravado but we have also seen divinity appear in thunder, lightning, fire and smoke; those are special effects. If God is not unholy for using them, you are not unholy for using them. If God doesn’t consider them evil, we should stop calling them evil.
Appearance and Presentation;
In simple Naija expression, I call this Packaging and it’s quite straight forward. We are yet to find out what the right dress code for a Christian artiste is so till we do that, let us dress according to our art. Let the artiste who suites up on stage not condemn the artiste in ripped skinny jeans. That you are in a suit does not mean those who are in t-shirts on stage are not as righteous and serious minded as you. Personally I do not like skinny jeans and I do not like seeing people in ripped cloths, the sight just conflicts with my orientation and background but I dare not condemn them or hate them. Actually, I find myself loving their music more than the suited guys; yes, they minister powerfully to me with their music. We used to think Kirk Franklin was crazy till we realized that there was greater craze than his in Tye Tribbett. These are people who bless lives continually with their music and are now considered Generals in the music scene. Like I said earlier, the dress code for Christian musicians wasn’t written in scripture so let artistes dress according to their art. However, we as saints are expected to be a shining light for the world. If your dressing on stage causes more trouble than your art can solve, please review your dressing. Our mandate is to preach the Gospel not to create controversy. Like I always say, “if you have to explain your art to people, there’s something wrong with it”, so also if you have to defend your dress code to people, then there’s probably something wrong with it.
Also on the subject of Packaging, I have come to understand that certain people have a problem with the word ‘Concert’. They feel it is a carnal expression and should not be used for highly spiritual events like theirs. In fact, I have heard people say things like “this is not a concert, if you came for a concert I am sorry to disappoint you” and “the spirit of the Lord is powerful in this place, this is no more a concert, God is moving”. These statements are usually made out of emotional excitement and are neither factual nor true. A musical concert simply refers to the arrangement and delivery of music involving musical instruments and/or singers. Where then do people get these ideas? I know you want the move of God in your event, that doesn’t mean it is not a concert. Calling your event a concert neither makes it unholy nor does it limit the move of God. Having an evident move of God through impartation is highly recommended but it doesn’t mean your event isn’t a concert.
Music is entertainment, if that is true then we can say that gospel music is entertainment, consequently, music ministry is based on entertainment. In mathematics we would simply say
If X =Y,
And Y = Z,
Therefore X = Z.
Sorry, I just had to use this transitivity logic to prove it.
If this is true why then do church musicians say things like “I’m not an entertainer, I’m a minister”? Like I said, we will deal with this issue of ‘ministry’ and ‘ministers’ but first lets deal with this wrong interpretation of entertainment. As long as you work with rhythm, melodies and rhyme, you are a musician and since music is to entertain you are an entertainer whether you like it or not, whether you agree or not, denying it is like denying the existence of gravity, it is inevitable. Denouncing entertainment is as musician does not make you holy; you may sound godly but it doesn’t make you godly. If you are not an entertainer, why then do you employ music? Why not let go of the music and be a preacher? You can’t hold on to the tools of a farmer, us those tools in the farm, carry those tools with you for everybody to see and even walk with other farmers who use those same tools and then claim that you aren’t a farmer. We can easily say that that person has identity issues.
I think the problem is that a lot of people have associated entertainment with carnality so much so that Christian musicians are afraid to refer to themselves as entertainers. The truth is that within your musical entertainment God finds a medium to touch lives. Music is powerful and in comparison to other mediums of ministration, music gives way for the move of God in profound dimensions. The secret is as much in the spiritual ‘yieldedness’ of the musician as it is in the receptiveness of the audience. A prominent Nigerian musician who is widely referred to as the father of gospel music as we know it in Nigeria made this same statement and I could hardly believe it because i thought he was of the school of thought that entertainment is not of God. Musical entertainment has always been a tool in the hand of God since the days of David and King Saul; let no man despise your musical entertainment.
In Conclusion; this is only the first part of the article and I know you are already struggling with your mindset to unlearn certain misguided but sincere beliefs you have acquired over the years. Don’t fight it, that’s just pride pushing you. The other part will deal with some other areas of misconceptions and will draw the curtain on this subject.
Alas the purpose of this write-up should not be forgotten. I am not just writing short notes on these concepts in order to define and explain them in a show of intelligence. My desire is that we get better at what we do as soon as possible because the effort invested on the other side is yielding immensely. We must abandon our show of holiness and disdain for one another and focus on the assignment before us so as to deliver excellence thereby leaving the people of this world with no excuse to damage their soul with vile music. If the church does not deliver better alternatives to sights and sounds the world brings, then we have no business complaining.
I bring greetings from the PROJECT SALT, God bless the preaching and teaching of his word through music in every corner of the globe, Amen!
Other Works Published:
• My Burdens; a Poem
• The Theology of Gospel Music
• The Upcoming Stunt
• Secrets of Sights and Sounds
• Wait for Healing
Every true artist has something that inspires their craft, beyond just the melodies on the surface. You’ve heard him sing a lot of beautiful melodies, now you get to listen to him speak some truth from the depths of his heart.
Chris Paul and Kevin Hart are bringing holiday joy to 500 children at three Target stores in Los Angeles, for Chris Paul and Kevin Hart’s 3rd Annual Holiday Takeover this Monday!
Chase is proud to partner with Chris Paul (9-time NBA All-Star) and actor/comedian/writer/producer Kevin Hart and Chase bringing holiday joy to 500 children at three Target stores in Los Angeles, for Chris Paul & Kevin Hart’s 3rd Annual Holiday Takeover. The children represent numerous Los Angeles-based organizations including LA’s Best, The Brotherhood Crusade, the Watts/Willowbrook boys & Girls Club and Leaps n Boundz. Each child attending the Holiday Takeover will be given a $100 gift certificate to do their holiday shopping courtesy of Paul and Hart, with Paul on hand for the “shopping spree” on December 19th. There is only one rule: each child must purchase at least one gift for someone other than themselves.
WHEN: Monday, December 19, 2016
Noon – 2:30pm
Media Check-in: 11:30am (For La Cienega store)
4:00 – 5:30pm
Media Check-in: 3:30pm (For Sepulveda store)
3535 S. La Cienega Blvd.
Los Angeles, CA 90016
5711 Sepulveda Blvd.
Van Nuys, CA 91411
(**Due to a scheduling conflict, Kevin Hart will be unable to attend this year’s Holiday Takeover)
The second edition of Understanding Purpose Music Conference is around the corner and it is once again calling on all music practitioners to come fetch from the wealth of knowledge being promulgated again!
Are you a music artiste trying to figure out how to get your music out for the world to hear? Have you been looking for an opportunity to be coached by your music icon? do you want to learn how to be the best at what you do musically and bring forth great sounds that would be appreciated world over? If any of the above scenarios speak to you, then this is for you!
Understanding Purpose Music Conference is a one of its kind music conference which seeks to provide mentorship to artistes, music directors, choir members and those who generally have a stake within the music industry.
This one day conference will also avail participants the opportunity to learn, interact and network with the greats within the industry.
Understanding Purpose Music Conference will hold on the 14th of January 2017 at Barcelona Hotels, 23 Blantyre Street off Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 11, Abuja. Time is 10am.
Facilitators include: BigMo, VC Perez, Preye Odede, Joe Praize, Unachii, Samsong, Ada Ehi and many others.
Date: Saturday 14th of January 2017
Venue: Barcelona Hotels, 23 Blantyre Street off Ademola Adetokunbo Crescent, Wuse 11, Abuja
Admission is completely FREE but registration is required.
Watch “Beyond Borders”, a documentary that share’s the experience of RMM’s time in South Africa.
Recently the members of RMM traveled to South Africa for some ministry outreach. They were very touched by their time and experiences there. Alongside Will Thomas, they’ve put together a dope little documentary.
In addition, they’re working on the Safe House Project that will use 100% of its proceeds to build a place to protect elementary aged children from sex trafficking in Pretoria, South Africa.
For more information regarding performances and speaking engagements, please visit www.rmmusic.tv
Edited By: Will Thomas
Filmed By: Jonathan Slayton Safe House Project
Safe House Project is a gospel hip hop album that will use 100% of its proceeds to build a place to protect elementary aged children from sex trafficking in Pretoria, South Africa.
On a recent trip to Soshanguve, Pretoria, Legin and Sinai of RM Music were exposed to the life saving work of Kerus Global toward elementary students, and to the very real dangers of sexual abuse and abandonment these young children face everyday. The Safe House Project is RMM’s response to protect these children.
With your help with will fund the album, which we are titling “Safe House,” and use 100% of its proceeds to build the actual Safe House for the children of Soshanguve, Pretoria. The album will be completed by the end of 2016 and released January 2017, as the children urgently need the Safe House completed.
We can do this, and we can do it soon. Everyone can get involved, and no gift is too small. For more information on Kerus Global, RMM, FAQs, or more visit our website below.