With each feeling emptiness in their lives, the members of the newly formed alternative Christian band RideTheWind feel God has brought them together for a purpose.
Brazil residents Rick Swearingen, Dave Henry and Tyler Mattox agree everything sort of "fell into place" as they each began playing Christian music with local musicians Dave Loughmiller and Jonny McLain.
Swearingen, who plays drums in the local Christian band P150, said he was looking for a way to reach out musically -- to help others fill the hollowness of their lives -- when McLain approached him.
"Without a thought, I said yes," Swearingen said. "Then, when Jonny announced he was dedicating his life to God and wanted to play Christian music, I thought 'Wow, here we go.'"
Swearingen said he knew this was the peace-of-heart he had been looking for.
"I knew this was where I am supposed to be. The music, it's my church," Swearingen said. "Every time we play together, I hear the words and it brings me closer to the walk I need to be on with God. Trust me, I've not always been there. But I've reached a place in my life where I don't want to turn back."
After hearing McLain and Loughmiller play a Christian concert at church, Henry made a prophetic statement to his wife.
However, Henry said he wasn't quite sure how playing a harp would fit into the mix, but it fits into the band's unique style that ranges from traditional gospel ballads to original songs that rock the house.
"What band do you know of that has a harp?" Henry asked, adding when McLain asked, he quickly said yes. "I'm so thankful for this experience. I can't believe it sometimes."
As the four were discussing their need for a bass player, Mattox, 19, took a chance and called McLain about playing with the band. All of the band members said the young man "wowed" them with his talent and his dedication to his religious convictions.
"I've really wanted to do this my entire life. I believe everyone is created for a purpose," Mattox said. "This is mine."
For Loughmiller and McLain, who were performing in Nashville, the opportunity to climb the ladder of success playing secular rock music left them both feeling hollow inside after playing at the "Come Celebrate Recovery" event in July.
"(At the Brazil Walnut Theater), the crowd was filled with joy and the spirit moved them," McLain said. "The joy of what was happening at that event, it just filled your soul. It wasn't the start of the change in me, but it was a big part of the reason I gave my life to the Lord."
The feeling that music could matter, that it could help someone, apparently wasn't in Nashville.
"We didn't talk about it at first, but we both felt it. I know I did," Loughmiller said, adding it took a couple of weeks before they talked about how they were both feeling. "The crowds we were playing to didn't seem to really be listening to the music. They just walked around."
McLain, the son of a pastor, said he soon realized he wanted his music to have a purpose and bring people together. Remembering his father's advice to take advantage of God's opportunities, McLain made the choice to leave secular music behind and start writing Christian music with a little zing.
"We only had like two or three songs in the beginning," he said about his worries the band wouldn't have enough material for a CD. "But thanks to Dee Swaim, we now have enough and even have a few left over."
With a unique sound, the band has caught the attention of the producers of "America's Got Talent." The "band of brothers" packed up their musical instruments and headed off to Chicago, Ill., early this morning to perform at a walk-in VIP audition for the television show around 4:45 p.m. this afternoon.
"We were told that they've never had an alternative Christian band perform on the show before," Loughmiller said. "They weren't even sure they had heard of a band like ours."
Excited doesn't begin to describe how the band members feel, but one tried.
"We're stoked," Loughmiller said as the rest of the band nodded in agreement. "Stoked is the only word I know that describes how this feels."
However, one band member admits to feeling a little different.
"My heart has changed. For me, this isn't about fame or money anymore. None of this is about me anymore. My life has always been God's, but I stepped away by my own choice. I'm home again," McLain said. "This is about what God wants. For us, this is about helping people and following an opportunity God has allowed us to do together. This band, we're brothers. We do this together in the spirit, or we don't go."
The 'Wind' on stage
When Christ Community Church Pastor Rich Laskowski announced from his pulpit "You've found the wind of God, now ride the wind," two local musicians, who had just finished performing for the congregation, knew their destinies were being changed.
Going where "God takes them," the members of alternative Christian band "RideTheWind" are on their way to Chicago, Ill., today to participate in a 4:45 p.m., VIP audition for the talent show "America's Got Talent."
The band will perform at 6 p.m., during the Fall Fest '09 event at Christ Community Church, 10942 North State Road 59, on Oct. 24.
On Nov. 1, the band will perform at Bethel United Methodist Church during an evening worship service.