Friday, March 1, 2013
Interview with UCJC Minister of Music Brother Chad Chambers
How did you become Minister of Music for United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic)?
I'm still asking myself that very same question. When Bishop Saunders asks you to do something you don't say no. I've been in this organization all my life and I am where I am musically because of the United Church. So when asked to serve this great organization for me it was a no brainer to give back to the organization that has given me so much.
Seeing how you were the international youth choir director for many years did you have any trouble adapting to being over the whole music department instead of just the youth.
Honestly for me there was no real hard adjustment or adaptation period. What most people don't and didn't realize is that I was doing the role long before I was given the title. The transition truly happened within a matter of months.
Who musically is your greatest inspiration?
I would have to say that my greatest musical inspiration is Fred Hammond. He is a lyrical genius and he has this ability to make me feel like I'm in a room with God, where it is just Him and I. Not many people can do that, let alone with just a song.
How do you go about selecting music each year, is there a certain yearly process you adhere to?
That is probably the most difficult thing for me when it comes to my job. I honestly don't like to select songs in advance because I like to hear from God and see what the room feels like in the moment. Knowing that I can't do that is very difficult for me. It's really important to me to know the audience and try to cater to everyone's needs at some point during the service. I also really try to be musically in line with the theme for the current year as far as my song choices are concerned. I try to pick songs that are familiar/popular or that can be taught in a short amount of time. I try to do this by purposely picking songs with catchy tunes and strong vamps. I also take suggestions from others when it comes to my song choices.
What are some things you plan to do to better the music department holistically?
At this point I want to make sure there is a succession plan is in place. I'm in the process of identifying someone who can take this department to the next level. It's been the desire of our Presiding Bishop, Bishop Monroe Saunders, for the United Church to do a Live Recording. I'd love to see that happen for him. I don't know if that will happen during my tenure but it is something that's in the forefront of my mind.
What do you feel is your greatest strength and weakness as leader of the music department?
My greatest weakness is probably wanting to please everybody. Leadership can be a lonely place. You're under a microscope and as much as you'd like to please everyone you can't. So you find yourself spending time and money (personal resources) to make things go off without a hitch. After you've done all of that it's sometimes hard to hear the criticisms. My greatest strength is probably my ability to delegate. That's something I learned from Pastor Vivian Grubb while serving under his administration as National Youth President.
What is your overall vision for the music department?
I really wanna see the department as a whole grow both naturally and spiritually. I would really love to see the United Church's Music Department to become a Hub for musicians and singer/songwriters. A place where we can share, learn and grow. I personally feel like we have some of the best singers, songwriters, and musicians in the world and it saddens me that we may never have the opportunity to see or hear some of these individuals share their gifts.
Who do you feel has had the biggest impact on gospel choral music?
Hmm, that is a really tough question because so many people have had big impacts on gospel choral music. I'm sure what I am about to say is gonna make me sound like an old head but music isn't what it used to be. I miss the gospel music that artist like Thomas Whitfield, Milton Brunson, The Hawkins family and others from that era gave us. If I had to say one person who has had the biggest impact I'd have to say it was/is Andrae' Crouch. He was relevant then and is still very relevant now in gospel choral music.
As a member of Derrick Bull and Remnant, a singer with your own single out, a dedicated church member, a successful Family Support Counselor/Organ Procurement Coordinator, and Minister of Music how do you balance all of your time?
Whew! It's very hard but God has graced me with the ability to handle multiple things at one time. More importantly I wanna die an empty vessel used by the Master. I don't wanna sit around and wait for life to happen to me I wanna live an abundant life right here on earth. It gets tiring sometimes but I wouldn't have it any other way. I'm gonna take something I heard Minister Derrick Bull say recently "I don't get tired of doing what I do as it relates to music. I love what I do. I sometimes get frustrated with people but doing music never frustrates or annoys me. I love it too much." Those words are truly the sentiments of my heart when it comes to what I do musically.
Long after your term what do you want your legacy to be.
I want people to say that I in some way enhanced and enriched their musical lives and helped shape their musical culture.
How important do you feel mentorship is and who if anyone is your mentor.
Mentorship is very essential to a productive life especially when it comes to ministry. I'd have to say first and foremost my father is and has been the greatest mentor of my life. He has taught me how to have a great work ethic and be a man of integrity, but most of all he has taught me how to be a man. Secondly I'd have to say another big mentor in my life was Elder Vernon Mack. He taught me so much about directing but more importantly about people.
As I stated earlier you are a very dedicated member of your church as someone who travels a lot how have you been able to maintain that level of dedication.
I've served at my church as the choir director for the past 21 years. When I'm not able to be in service I make sure I've cleared it with my pastor and that he knows where I am. I also make sure there is someone in place to carry on in my absence. For me it is about being accountable to my leader for the position I am placed in.
In Pentecostalism music has always played a major role in our worship, seeing how that role has continually change over the years, where do you see the role of music moving towards in the future.
I don't think the role of music has changed as much as the role of the church has changed. Music still acts as a healing agent, a form of entertainment, a connection to the world, and an outlet for all ages to share. However that looks now, those things will always remain present as long as music is present.
As a young single man what advice and words of encouragement do you have for young single men and women.
Don't allow anyone to make you feel inadequate for being single or that you're "suspect" because you're not married. If some married people would tell the truth about marriage they'll tell you that marriage is hard and getting married does not eliminate issues you had before the marriage such as lust. Only God can do that and He can do it whether you're single or not. WAIT on Him to send/give you a mate. There is NO time limit because He's the author of time. I'm not moved by this wave of marriages happening around me. I'm truly happy for anybody who finds Gods mate for them. I believe that people who want to be married should be married and those of us who are content with where God has us right now I'm equally as happy for. My parents have been married for 40 years and they have an AMAZING marriage and I won't settle for anything less than that and you shouldn't either. Don't settle!!!! I will marry the women that I can't live without. So until I meet her I will be single.
What do you feel separates the music department of United Church of Jesus Christ (Apostolic) from any other organization's music department?
I think the biggest separation factor is our genuine love for one another. People in this organization aren't connecting with you to see where you can take them. They're connecting with you because they genuinely love and care about your well being. Not to mention that we have the best singers, songwriters, and musicians in the music business. Hands down the best!
Who in your opinion was the greatest choir director of all time?
Ha! I've had the honor to serve under Pastor Marcus Johnson when he was the choir director for the National Choir and anyone who had the opportunity to witness him as a choir director would know the answer to this question without hesitation.
What advice do you have for anyone who feels led, making steps or is in the beginning stages of being a choir director in their local church
Build relationships with your choir in and out of church. People are important and it's your job to make sure they know that. Earn their respect and once you've done that, do your best to never lose it.
In the whole spectrum of Pentecostalism where do you think UCJC stands.
With a presiding Bishop like Bishop Saunders we have no choice but to stand at the Head.
As one of the very best vocal part teachers I know where did you learn the ability to teach music.
I come from a very musical family. Growing up in my family singing was not an option. You were basically given the choice to sang or died. Well at least that's what they made us believe when we were younger. So because of this I learned to love music at a very early age. I think my ear developed through the many nights my cousin ,Evang. Pebbles Grubb, and I would stay up all night dissecting songs. We would spend hours upon hours going over every part and every little nuance in a song. We would dissect entire CD's in one night. It wasn't until I started teaching songs to other choirs outside of my church that I realized hearing and teaching parts wasn't something that everybody could do. I'm so thankful for the musical heritage of St. Matthews United Church and UCJC as a whole.
As we can all see Brother Chad Chambers is a great man of God. He to me is an example of how great you can be for God. I pray that you all enjoyed reading this interview as much as I enjoyed writing it. God Bless!!!