Friday, June 30, 2006

I Hear Voice

Here's a biographical sketch of a warm, winsome, humble brother who has been saved by grace and is using his skills at rap--formerly used to celebrate sin and now being used to sing of the Savior--in order to edify the body of Christ.

"Voice sought refuge in rap music from his fatherless upbringing and the mean streets of Washington, D.C. Voice’s rap sheet started around the same time he began listening to rap and hip-hop—when he was 7 years old. It was the early 1980’s, and life in the hood was being lyricized by the likes of Run-DMC, KRS One, Doug E. Fresh, Eric B., and Rakim, and Big Daddy Kane. Those were the hip-hop pioneers who shaped Voice’s ear and his outlook. He began break dancing, then rapping. He practiced impromptu and spontaneous freestyle rap, calling himself MC Finnesse. He got into the studio, and while others were playing ball, he was laying down tracks. After numerous demo tapes and rap battles at clubs, Voice was a recognized up and coming rapper. The D.C. market’s two biggest rap and R&B stations, 93.9 WKYS and 95.5 WPCG, began to play his songs.

"The early 1990’s . . . rolled around, and it looked like a recording contract would as well. Voice changed his name to Intrigue Garcia. He began to develop a crew of other rappers from his Belle Haven neighborhood, hoping to “take the recording industry by storm” and represent D.C. But the Belle Haven crew, known as “2nd Gin,” was involved in more than rap. They developed a drug dealing operation as well, and Voice found himself in a complicated world where art and life intertwined. The crime and violence he rapped about were more than poetic narratives—they were gritty realities. As hip hop denegrated into an increasingly bitter feud between the west and east coasts, Voice’s life began to spiral out of control as well. Shortly after he met with an entertainment lawyer and record label executives to sign a recording contract, he was charged with felony assault with a deadly weapon, second degree assault, reckless endangerment and possession of a gun. Voice faced 43 years in prison. He needed refuge, but music could not deliver that, and he knew it.

"A few friends stuck with Voice through the trial. One was a Christian. He told Voice about Jesus’ death on the cross and resurrection. This was an old story for Voice. He had heard it many times. But this time he was low enough to listen. Miraculously, a judge sentenced Voice to only 20 months in jail and extended probation. Voice felt that God had worked on his behalf, and instead of walking away from God, drew closer. But Voice knew he needed Christian friends and a strong church. His friend’s church was gospel-centered, scripturally strong, and practiced what it preached. But it was predominantly white. This was an obstacle for Voice, but God used it to confront wrong attitudes in Voice’s heart. Voice joined Covenant Life Church in 2001, and is now a bridge to the African-American community while serving as a singles ministry intern. 'This church accepted me as I was and helped me to grow as I should,' says Voice. 'The grace of God is seen so clearly in the local church and for me this is what I needed and what we all need if we are to mature in Christ.'

"Voice decided to forget about rap. It was a distraction from his love for God because it tempted him to worship himself and lured his heart toward his old life. It functioned as an idol in his heart. But in January 2004, Covenant Life Church pastor Joshua Harris, also Executive Director of New Attitude Ministries, asked Voice to rap at the national 'New Attitude' Conference. Voice performed “You Have Captured Me” for 3,500 young people, and then realized his love and desire for rap remained. But the focus would no longer be on himself, or guns, drugs, or women. 'My desire is to hopefully affect people with content that speaks of the truth of the gospel,' Voice says. 'With all that I have been through, I still can’t believe I’m here and that I might have the opportunity to be used by God in this way. I’ll take this over prison any day.''"

For more info on Voice's new CD, Progression, you can read about it or purchase it through the Sovereign Grace Ministries Store.

"The CD features 16 new songs that portray a Christian’s 'progression' from conversion, through the joys and trials of the Christian life, toward a destiny that’s about God, not us. You can listen to song samples and download lyrics at the official website of Voice:"

I'll have more info on this ministry in the next day or two.