MP3 Wal Spencer & Joe Romeo - Grunt
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17 MP3 Songs
EASY LISTENING: Musicals/Broadway, GOSPEL: Contemporary Gospel
How It Started...
I have always loved music. I grew up loving some of the songs from Jesus Christ Superstar, and Godspell, (not to mention Mozart, Bach, Lennon and McCartney). At 19, as a medical student, I was reminded of Godâs authority, and started to believe that he forgives sin. Over the next two years I came to a wonderful understanding of the power of the cross and resurrection, and of the grace of God.
In this light, I was saddened by the weak lyrical interpretation of Jesus in Jesus Christ Superstar, and the dry portrayal of Jesus in Godspell. Both musicals avoided the resurrection. As far as I could see, the last popular, edifying Christian musical was Handelâs Messiah.
In the late 90âs the Narrandera Churches put on an âEaster Pageantâ, with great success. This indicated to me that Narrandera had the talent and the faith to put on a musical. My friend Hugh MacCallum met with me to start writing. Our motives and desires were good, but it did not eventuate. At another time, I was asked to comment on the Gethsemane song from Jesus Christ Superstar: it was part of a year twelve project for a friend. Again I was surprised at how distorted the theology of this song was. So I started writing a musical based on Johnâs Gospel. I completed Act 1, but then got busy with other things.
Wal Spencer came to Narrandera in 2002, with his one man Gospel Drama, Grunt, and the Miracle of the Nails. Hearing it announced at church, we decided to attend the performance that evening. As Wal began reciting his second poem about the demoniac and the drowning pigs, I was caught up by one of the most thrilling events of Jesusâ life (one of my favourite passages), told in an original, entertaining, and edifying way (did I mention, Ozzie?). It just needed music. Could this be a musical?
But who was I to start making musicals out of someone else's hard worked gospel drama? I didnât even know the man. Quietly, I asked God to take the silly thought out of my mind. By the end of the presentation, I had clearly decided, not to approach Wal, or offer any musical suggestions. As if I had time to write a pile of songs anyway!
In the gathering after the show, I looked for my wife (we had been sitting at opposite ends of our five children). She explained that she happened to have met Mrs. Spencer and discussed the possibilities of a musical with her, and that we would meet for supper! Who was I to argue? I saw this as a sign from above.
As we met, Wal and Elizabeth explained that in their travels presenting this gospel drama from church to church, people often explained that the story helped them to see that Jesus truly was, and is, for ordinary people, âlike you and me...â
To test the waters, it was decided that Wal would choose one set of lyrics, I would set them to music, and if we were both happy with the result, we would continue with the transforming of the drama into a musical. Wal returned home to Sydney, and wrote the words to a new song, âOrdinary Peopleâ. Needless to say, we liked the song it inspired.
By mid 2003 I was able to meet with the Narrandera Inter-church Council, and a decision was made to present, for the first time, Grunt, the musical.
At Easter 2004 (coinciding with the release of Mel Gibsonâs The Passion of the Christ) a group of ordinary people, with ordinary faith, and a willingness to work together, presented Grunt to over two thousand people, young and old, during eight live performances. It was a resounding success.
With the decision in 2005, to re-perform the musical at Easter 2006, and with encouragement from David Maegraith (and Rachel Maegraith), my wife and I felt it would be good to record these songs professionally.
If the listener of this CD experiences a fraction of the joy Wal and I felt, in the recording process, it will have been well worth the effort.
Joe Romeo 14-1-06
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