New Warriors of Worship – Two Artists To Watch

Glance down the latest Christian music charts and you’ll see that a disproportionate number of artists hail from our fair state. The Sunshine State’s rolls include Francesca Battistelli, Jonny Diaz, Anberlin, Flyleaf, Submission Red, Fireflight and Group 1 Crew to name a few. In addition to all of these amazing musicians and groups, you can now add two new artists to that list – Kerrie Roberts and Andrew Ehrenzeller.

Andrew Ehrenzeller:

Beauty is What Remains
It all began with praying for a drum set at the age of seven. This one instrument would begin a lifetime romance intertwining his love for God with music. Those who hear Ehrenzeller’s music will notice a deep passion mixed with thankfulness and maturity beyond his years; Andrew’s life has been full of trials, one such being a bout with terminal cancer, from which he was miraculously healed. When not touring, Ehrenzeller makes The Harbour Church in Pompano his home. His latest CD, Beauty is What Remains is available there and also at his website www.AndrewEhrenzeller.com.

Good News: If someone approached you and asked you what your goal in life was, how would you describe it to them?
Andrew: To do everything God asked me to do. Love all those He gave me to love.

GN: What is your background musically?
Andrew: I came from a musical family. Both my parents sang and played instruments. My grandmother was a piano teacher for 40 years so it’s kind of in my blood, so to speak. As a boy I started on the drums, and then moved to the piano, writing “little ditties”. In high school, I picked up the guitar, some bass and played the cello in the orchestra my junior and senior year. I went to Stetson University and graduated with a Bachelor’s degree in Music Theory and Composition. It was a blast!

GN: Who are some of your music influences? (Christian or not)
Andrew: Growing up I would listen to whatever my dad was listening to. Thankfully I was exposed to a wide range of artists from Chicago, Alan Parsons and Steely Dan, to Russ Taff, 2nd Chapter of Acts, Amy Grant and Michael Card. When I first started buying my own music I remember being torn between R.E.M.’s “Out Of Time” album or Marc Cohn’s self-titled debut. After much deliberation with my folks I ended up buying the Marc Cohn album and it’s still one of my personal favorites to this day. I like singer/songwriters that have something interesting to say, even if I disagree with them. Other influences would be Keith Green, Rich Mullins, The Beach Boys, Sting and The Police, Peter Gabriel. Anything with truth in it.

GN: How did you come to know the Lord?
Andrew: When I was seven I asked my mom to come and pray with me so I could give my heart to Jesus. We knelt in front of my bed that night and God heard the simple prayer of a little boy asking to know Him personally. It’s been quite a ride ever since.

GN: How did your band/ Life come to fruition?
Andrew: I’ve really been writing music all my life. It wasn’t until college that I began to see more clearly what God and I were really working towards. To me, Life is the outpouring of an inward reality, the indwelling of Jesus through His Spirit, to those that are in need of something. Some may need to hear deep theological truths wrapped in a catchy tune. I can do that. Others may simply need to hear that God loves them. I want to do that more.

GN: What are some of the problems you see with today’s culture? And what do you think will fix some of these problems?
Andrew: Every generation has the opportunity to shape present culture for the next. There’s always this “inheriting” thing that’s happening. Sometimes we inherit the good and then the bad comes right along with it. I’m amazed at how Jesus was born into a pretty dysfunctional family tree and yet I never see Him ashamed of it, nor even swayed by it. He was never uncomfortable in His own skin, which is our skin. He made (and still makes) being human something beautiful. Like what the Psalmist writes, “He beautifies the afflicted ones with Jesus”. (Hebrew word “Yeshua”. Accepting our lot in life and resisting the shame of it by choosing to love those that God has given us to love, say first our families and then our respective communities, will always yield a fruitful reward.)

GN: How do people hear your music?
Andrew: For a while it has been kind of a word of mouth thing. People passing CD’s around or sharing raw recordings. Recently we’ve put the latest full length release called Beauty Is What Remains on iTunes. Also Bright Work put a website together for me, www.andrewehrenzeller.com. We’re looking to go into the studio and record a follow-up album in June called Farewell Babylon.

GN: Where do you see yourself in 10 years?
Andrew: My eyes aren’t that good.

GN: What is are some of the difficulties you face when you’re on tour? In your relationship with Jesus and with others?
Andrew: Other than the usual road weariness, I would say it can be a challenge to break away from groups in order to have fellowship with God in prayer. Sometimes it’s easy; sometimes it’s not. But it’s always worth the fight.

GN: What do you like to do for fun?
Andrew: I’m a big tennis fan. I like to read. Listening to music with the score in my hand is fun.

GN:Who is your record label?
Andrew: No label. I guess they call that Independent. I’d say I’m more “Dependent” though.

GN:Do your write all of your own music?
Andrew: Yes.

GN:Favorite song on your album and what inspired it?
Andrew: Each song is so different, kind of like kids they each have their own personalities. Nocturne is one that I go back to a lot. It has a real groove to it and the lyrical content deals with the return of Jesus. There’s an epic quality to it musically that I feel imitates the message well.

GN: What is the most memorable moment you have had while being a Christian?
Andrew: There are many, too many to count. Being in the presence of the Lord with the multitudes praising Him is for lack of a better word, heavenly. I remember this one time of worship at Esperanza Viva in Puebla, Mexico where the worship would just not stop. My fingers were bleeding from playing the piano so hard. When I stopped, the song just kept going. We were singing the syllable “La” cause I don’t speak Spanish. It was other-worldly.

GN:How would you introduce a non believer to Jesus Christ?
Andrew: “Non-believer, this is Jesus. Jesus, this is non-believer. I’m sure you two will have a lot in common.”

GN: Favorite Color?
Andrew: Forest Green

GN: Favorite Food?
Andrew: Chips and Salsa

GN: Funniest thing that ever happened to you?
Andrew: Recently I had a belated surprise 30th birthday party because I had been traveling overseas. Totally off my radar, I walked through the front door with a friend of mine and got the shock of a lifetime. The funny thing is that as I stood there stunned, the food and party favors out, the first thought that went through my mind was, “Oh no! I just ruined someone’s surprise party!” It was classic.

GN: What do you think Jesus will say to you when you enter heaven?
Andrew: “Now for the real adventure to begin…”

Kerrie Roberts:

Taking the music world by hurricane
Kerrie Roberts is the girl next door. That is if you grew up next door to someone who was a backup singer for Engelbert Humperdinck’s international tour, sang with 2010 Male Vocalist of the year Brandon Heath on a recent Christmas special or the young woman who moves heaven and earth to be a part of events for His Caring Place, a South Florida teen maternity Life .

The years before the beginning
Born in Ohio, Kerrie moved to South Florida in middle school when her father became pastor of the Church of God in Pompano Beach. Since childhood, music has been the backdrop for much of Kerrie’s life. She was performing church solos from the time that she was too tiny to be seen by the congregation. After graduating from Westminster Academy (where she wrote and performed a song for graduation), Kerrie majored in Studio Music and Jazz Vocal Performance at the University of Miami. Open auditions, a season on Popstars, moving to New York with just two suitcases and now releasing her eponymous CD are all part of what Kerrie describes as a “long winding road to the starting line because this (CD project) is definitely just the beginning.”

Meeting an old friend for the first time
Recently I had the chance to talk to Kerrie about being a PK (pastor’s kid), the passion behind her song lyrics and how she’s adjusting to headline billing. Even in the short time that we spoke, it was obvious that she is talented, fun-loving, deeply thoughtful and poised beyond her years. Just the kind of person you look forward to getting to know better.

On the benefits of growing up in South Florida
“The multi-culturalism – that’s something I really miss when I’m in other places. Obviously it was present in New York, but Nashville… Nashville has its great points but that’s not one of them. Going to Westminster Academy was part of that. It is a Christian high school, but it is also a Presbyterian high school and I had grown up in Church of God. At Westminster, I was exposed to people from every denomination. Being at UM in a very secular environment was a huge benefit. Pursuing music there led to the Engelbert tour that took me around the world.”

On life on tour
When you read Kerrie’s official bio or listen to the lyrics of songs from her CD like “No Matter What” based on a sermon her father preached on Shadrach, Meshach and Abednego, resist the temptation to assume you know what to expect from this pastor’s daughter. There is little of the staid and nothing of the uptight about Kerrie Roberts. “A couple of nights before the end of the tour, I got videos of various people with this random moose head that I found backstage. (To see the video for yourself, check out her tweet for December 17th at @kerrie_roberts). I think it’s important to do fun, silly things because this is part of my personality – I’m not serious all the time. People have an image in their head when they hear that my father is a pastor. I have a lot of non-Christian friends and that’s their initial feeling, but I tell them, ‘Just come over and hang with us. I promise that you will feel at home and welcome.’ My ability to be vulnerable comes from my family and how supported I feel by them.”

On her debut release, Kerrie Roberts
“For me, the purpose of this specific project would be that (people) would identify with it. So often we feel like we have to hide because no one else is feeling it. I’d love for people to walk away saying, ‘Her music really connects with me and meets me where I am.’ I want them to walk away feeling hopeful in their search for truth.” Whether she’s performing internationally before audiences of thousands or before church congregations of fifty people, Kerrie’s prayer is the same. “‘Help me to reach the hearts that are in this room. Help my heart be sincere and let these people feel your presence.’ There is nothing that will turn me off more than seeing someone either speak or sing about God and feeling like it’s just show.” Kerrie emphasizes being the same in the dressing room as in the living room. “My family and friends keep me so grounded. I’m just me- trying my best to do my best.”

On moving into the spotlight
When you realize that it wasn’t long ago that Kerrie was working an accounting job while she pursued her dream, you might imagine that little things like being proclaimed a strong contender for New Artist of the Year or having “Unstoppable” featured on Season 10 of American Idol would be a shock. In actuality, it seems like this is something God’s been preparing Kerrie for since she was a child. “I’ve grown up my entire life doing what I do every night. Show up at a church and sing and then talking to people afterwards. Now I’m able to express things in my own words, which is the main difference, but I have definitely been prepared for this. It feels like home.”

On her calling
Asked to sum up how she would fill in the phrase – Kerrie Roberts, called by God to be…, Kerrie responds, “A lover of people. That’s what I would love to be known as. I love people and my heart breaks. I don’t even have to know you for my heart to break for your situation. We are all called to share the good News but sometimes we have to love first before we can share.”

On being a Christian artist
“When people ask me about whether I write Christian music, I tell them, ‘No, I write music.’ Although not everyone is a songwriter, everyone has conversations. Think about how confining it would be if someone said, ‘At the end of every conversation you’re going to sum it up with a spiritual application.’ I think we would inwardly rage against that.” Regarding whether her future lies on Broadway, television or as a songwriter, Kerrie responds, “The sky is the limit. I’m want to passionately pursue my craft and passionately pursue my faith, take it a day at a time and try to maintain a thankful attitude for what I have in front of me right now.”
Kerrie’s self-titled debut on Reunion Records/Provident Label Group, Kerrie Roberts, is available wherever music is sold. Listen for her latest release on Reach FM.

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