Nov 11, 2008

Former Liberty musicians still going strong

by Kerah Kemmerer

Missing friends, the dorm life on the circle and crazy snowball fights are some of the first things that come to mind for alumni and signed musicians the members of Six Chasing Seven and Meredith Andrews.

Six Chasing Seven

Made up of Daniel Keeton, James Walz, CJ Hagwood, Byron Cage and Ryan Thomas all met at Liberty except for lead singer Dick “Dickie” Redding. Guitarist Keeton reflected on his decision to attend Liberty, and how it influenced his life and inspired the creation of the band.

“I decided to come because the people that I met here while in high school were genuinely good people,” Keeton said. “The atmosphere cultivates positive Christian growth for those who seek it.”

Keeton said Liberty is great for networking in many areas, especially when in pursuit of Christian ministry. “The band wouldn’t exist if it were not for Liberty,” Keeton said. “We developed some of the greatest friendships one could ask for, all while being challenged academically and spiritually. Plus, I met my wife here.”

The music of Six Chasing Seven, described as “soul-crunching, rock-infused pop funk” on its MySpace page, is the primary focus in the lives of the band members.

Although all the members currently hold “real” jobs to pay the bills, the work they do allows flexibility to travel and perform as a band. Weekends are the primary time devoted to shows with several nights a week set aside for practice.

According to Keeton, Six Chasing Seven was not part of any of the band member’s future dreams.

“I used to mock people who tried to make it in bands,” Keeton said. “It was unrealistic to me. We were all pursing degrees in other areas besides ‘rockstar.’ Our drummer has a master’s in psychology and our sax player wanted to be a biologist.”

The “band thing” happened almost by accident when, during a Jazz night at Liberty in October of 2004, several of the guys began playing together and like the resulting sounds. They began playing in public more often and the size of their shows began to grow steadily.

After the original singer left the band, current lead singer Redding was picked up to temporarily cover until a permanent member could be found. One of the most unexpected rewards was that Redding came to Christ while singing in the band.

“He was selling drugs quite heavily at the time and living very much in the world,” Keeton said. “However, through a series of amazing circumstances and the Lord working on his life, he accepted Christ about five months after he started singing with us. Dickie is now our spiritual leader.”

God continued to open many doors after this salvation occurrence a few years ago, and his blessing on the group has been undeniable ever since, according to Keeton.

One personal blessing that Keeton experienced was the opportunity to witness to his favorite groups, the Dave Matthews Band (DMB). Through what Keeton describes as “some crazy circumstances” about two years ago, the DMB violinist, Boyd Tinsley heard about Six Chasing Seven’s music, and they recorded an album with Tinsley.

“It was a two-year process that I’ll never forget,” Keeton said. “We got to pray with Boyd and minister in ways that I never could have imagined. We also met countless other great artists, including other members of the band.”

Keeton believes that because of that experience, their band was put under a spotlight and is still reaping the benefits of the opportunity.

“Join or form a good band,” Keeton said for students interested in musical careers. “Just because you’re great friends does not mean that you will make great music together. As with anything you do for God, do it with excellence.”

Keeton wished to remind students that true ministry comes from relationships. He said personal relationships affect people more than music ever could and music is often only a tool.

Meredith Andrews

Life for Meredith Andrews is quite busy as she currently serves part time on staff as a worship leader at Harvest Bible Chapel located outside of Chicago. She also travels to other churches and venues for her music. Andrew’s first album, “The Invitation,” was released in April of this year, and her wedding was in May.

“To describe my daily life would be a feat in itself because it looks different every day,” Andrews said. “But it is lots of fun and keeps me on my toes.”

The memories of life at Liberty are still quite vivid for the 2005 graduate who holds a degree in Family and Child Development and minored in Worship and Music Ministry.

“From football games and mission trips to worship services, and family classes to on-campus dining and off-campus activities, and everything else in between, there was never a dull moment during my time at Liberty,” Andrews said.

Andrews spent much of her time with the Campus Praise band and has fond memories of dorm life claiming that dorm 19-1 was the best. She said she really enjoyed the experience of living and fellowshipping with so many different girls.

“My fondest memories of Liberty revolve largely around my time on Campus Praise Band,” Andrews said. “To be able to come together as a student body week after week and lift up the name of Jesus in the Vines Center was such an incredible privilege.”

Andrews also believes that the opportunities she had while serving on a Light Ministries team and Campus Praise Band was what the Lord used to cultivate in her a “passion for His presence and a desire to sing truth over His people and point them to Jesus.”

She and her husband Jacob have partnered with Hopegivers International to raise awareness about how God is using his orphan army in India. She credits this partnering to the impact of overseas travel with Light Ministries in her life.

Blown away is how Andrews describes the experience to be able to travel and see how God is using her music to encourage others and how God is working in the lives of his children.

“When I wrote ‘You’re Not Alone,’ for instance, God used it to speak directly to my life at that point in time,” Andrews said. “I never thought it would go beyond my parents’ living room to touch so many hearts that also needed to be reminded of the promises of God.

Being a signed Christian musician has its perks as Andrews has discovered. She met Christian recording artist Nichole Nordeman earlier this year at a show outside of Chicago. Andrews said it was difficult to put together intelligible sentences as she talked to Nordeman, whose music Andrews said God used greatly in her life.

One experience from the father of Contemporary Christian Music was greatly encouraging to her. Andrews recalls the particular phone call like this:

“Hey Meredith, this is Michael W.”

“As in SMITH??”

(Laughs) “Yes. I just wanted to let you know that your album has been in my car all week, and I’m really loving it.”

Andrews said students should be faithful where God has placed them, and to trust that he will bring all the right people into their lives in his right timing.

She said we need to trust that he is using every moment and experience to shape us.

“Surround yourself with people who love to worship God through music. Polish your gift. And wait on the Lord,” Andrews said.

“Ultimately, he is the one in control, and you can rest assured he will open the doors he wants you to walk through for the glory of his name and the edification of his people.”

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