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Ready to fly - The EMU story ::

Philip Percival explains the background to EMU Music
Source: Perspective Vo9 No4 © Perspective 2002

EMU was hatched from Plainsong Music, a group of Christian musicians from Dubbo including Bryson Smith, our minister and me.

When we started we didn’t expect much would come from what we were doing, as every second church seemed to be putting out a CD. However, our first CD, Consider Christ, had remarkable success.
Although it was a bit of a backyard job production wise, the songs were picked up that year at Katoomba Youth Convention and the CD was taken on board by Matthias Media.
It has sold strongly ever since. Meanwhile, with Bryson and others, I continued to write songs for congregations. And as we heard that they were being sung further and further a field, I decided that if I was going to take this whole thing seriously that I needed to spend some time at Bible College, making sure that I had a firm grasp on the Bible and theology.

The couple of years at Moore College certainly did this and more. Not having been aware (out in the bush) how strongly evangelical Christians were crying out for more biblical music for their churches, we were challenged to think how we could structure Plainsong into a more appropriate vehicle for doing this.

We approached two song writing legends, Rob Smith and Nicky Chiswell, with the idea of creating a new larger and united organisation – one that would not only produce and publish congregational music to a higher standard, but that would grapple with the nature of music in the Bible, and encourage and train churches in doing music so that the word of Christ would be implanted in people’s hearts through their singing.

Our vision was to bring together and foster the musical talent that exists in the evangelical community, and produce Christian music resources that not only spring from a genuine response to Jesus Christ, but promote that response in others by proclaiming the truth of the Bible. Our first projects under the new label are titled No Other Name and The Gospel According To Groove.

The first of these is a joint album of Nicky and Rob. While the quality of songs from these two performers has always between high, we wanted to spend more than ever before on making sure the production was at an equivalent level. Other publishers of congregational music have been working hard at this for years. And, while we don’t want to compete with them in any other sense, we don’t want our music to be ignored simply because it doesn’t live up to the recording standards that most of the world now expects.

The Gospel According to Groove is actually not primarily what we are on about as an organisation, as it is more of a listening-to CD. Yet when some of the countries best jazz musicians approach you to do a Christian album with them, an album that will clearly explain the message of the gospel, it is hard to refuse. James Morrison is of course the big name on the disc, but the driving force for Gospel came from a fellow Bible College student, Con Campbell ­ an accomplished jazz sax player who was able to bring all the parties together.
We hope this album will be attractive to Christians and non-Christians alike. We hope also that it will raise the profile of EMU and maybe even get Christians not familiar with our other music to see what we have to offer to churches. I have been working three days a week for EMU since January.

The growth we have seen already, however, means I’ll be working much more than this in the near future. Planning and producing new resources is a massive task when you add it to the administration, marketing, and growing list of training events I am speaking at. Therefore, We value any support churches can offer us: By prayer ­ that our task will always be a gospel ministry and not merely a business venture; By support from individuals and churches becoming financial supporters through our subscription service (see our web site for details); and By churches trying and using our songs. In producing music we are in partnership with you.

Use our music if it is good ­ but if we put out duds we need to know about it. Our goal is to see Christians grow in their love and knowledge of Jesus and in their love and service of each other. Singing as Christians together is a wonderful way that God works to make these things happen, and our prayer is that EMU will be part of this great ministry.

Philip Percival is the Executive Director of EMU, congregational songwriter and a recent graduate from Moore Theological College. website

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