The message of music is even more meaningful when it's taken on the road – at least, that's how the New Generation Singers see it.
A crowd of friends and family gathered outside Wyatt Park Baptist Church in St. Joseph last Saturday to await the to await the return of the singers. The nondenominational group had just spent two weeks traveling traveling around the country singing at churches.
Member Cole Warden began the group's welcome-back performance by running like a rock star to the stage singing “I just came to praise the Lord” with 80 other New Generation singers, kicking off their last concert of the season.
The New Generation Singers are a group that starts with freshmen in high school; members are allowed to stay in the group until they get married. The oldest members are in their early 20s.
The group spent two weeks traveling through South Dakota, Montana, Idaho, Wyoming, Colorado, Kansas and Canada, performing at the local churches. Bemo Meyers has been with the group for about 16 years. He said the New Generation singers consider themselves a singing youth group.
“Music isn’t what we’re trying to do as an end result. Music is the vehicle that we try to use to spread Gods love," Meyers said.
Warden has been on tour three times now. He said that though there have been changes over the years, one thing remains the same.
“Each year it’s a different group, you meet new people and you become closer to new people, but God’s always there and you can always feel the same presence, but also you get to see his work in other places," Warden said.
The title for this year’s tour was “Brighter Than the Sun.” Byron Meyers, Bemo Meyers’ father and founder of New Generation Singers, said the theme is about enhancing your own life through faith. Byron Meyers says he most enjoys the moment when a kid gets this message.
“They start out delivering the message to the people in front, and before the tour's over, they're receiving the message themselves,” he said.
Because their message is given through song, Bemo Meyers says he spends a lot of time deciding which songs to sing each year. This year he decided to add a few popular and less traditionally Christian songs into the mix. These songs – such as "Home" and "Brighter Than the Sun" – can even be found on secular radio stations.
“When you originally hear them on the radio, you may not think of them as religious, but when you stop and listen to the lyrics, they certainly could fit," he said.
Ultimately, Bemo Meyers hopes the popularity of the songs provides more opportunity for Christians to strengthen their faith.
“I think its particularly cool because then if someone comes and sees our performance, you know, and then a week later they are driving down the road and they hear one of these songs on their car radio," he said. "I’m kind of hoping it helps them to remember the performance, remember what we were talking about and kind of re-inspire them.”
The singers say their songs re-inspire their own faith after a performance as well.
Although this season has come to a close, practice for New Generation Singers started for next year this past week.
*Editor's note: In the interest of transparency, we'd like to let you know that the reporter's cousin is involved in New Generation Singers, but was not among those interviewed for this piece.
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