It was a rainy day in March 2012 when Andrew Harvey, Chris Saade and several participants from their International Academy of Sacred Leadership (IASL) gathered at the Urban Ministry Center to host a lunchtime music event. During the open mic, held in the small computer room adjacent to the dining room, several UMC neighbors stepped up and shared their talent. Then, from the rain, through a side door, entered a very tall man with a sweet face and an immediately recognizable twinkle in his eye. He asked if he could use my guitar to share one of his songs. It was at that moment that Felix Luckey captured everyone’s heart with his song, “God Bless Us.”
Andrew was so moved and inspired by Felix that he enlisted my support to produce a CD featuring Felix and other current or former UMC neighbors who’ve known the great struggle and heartbreak of homelessness. During the summer of 2012, I met with Dale Mullenix to present the CD idea (which he enthusiastically embraced). He put me in contact with UMC staff members Robert Nesbit and Trish Fries who offered tremendous support with identifying musicians and enlisting their participation in the project.
At some point in early 2013, I spoke with a dear friend of mine and professional musician, Scott McLaughlin, who became immediately enthused about the CD project and suggested I contact a local musician and recording engineer, Eric Lovell, at his Blu Bubble studio. I spoke with Eric by phone and we then met in his studio which is tucked away behind his house in one of Charlotte’s eastside neighborhoods. Without a moment of hesitation, Eric committed his far-reaching talent and passion to this project.
After many months of preparation, meetings and phone conversations with Robert and Trish, I began bringing the UMC musicians into Eric’s studio where so many magical moments of beauty, soul and heartfelt creativity were captured. In the midst of the recording sessions, another dear friend of mine and professional photographer, Ginger Wagoner (who was part of the March 2012 IASL music event at UMC) was brought on board. Ginger’s incredible photographs of the UMC wall mural – that was painted by UMC neighbors – became the artwork for the CD jacket. Seven musicians, including Felix Luckey, are featured on the CD and all chose songs that focus on joy, peace or salvation. Each has a picture and quote on the jacket, including Gary Henderson, who says, “Joy is like a cold. If you’re around someone who has it, you’ll soon have it too.”
Fast forward to April 2015 – after amazingly generous contributions from Scott McLaughlin, Greg James, Lyndall Hare, Gigi Dover – and…Voilὰ…LIGHT THE FLAME was born! Along with all the person power invested along the way, I offer great thanks to our executive producers for their very generous funding contribution: Andrew Harvey/Institute for Sacred Activism and Jessie Thompson, Chris Saade/The Olive Branch Center.
It is with such pride and pleasure that I introduce this unique and heart-filled CD to you. I so hope you will purchase a copy for yourself and also additional copies to offer others as a gift. Please know that 100% of CD sales go directly to the Urban Ministry Center. Contact Trish Fries to get yours.