Metroplus

Touching notes, changing lives

Songs of Hope by Brian Doerksen

Songs of Hope by Brian Doerksen  

Singer-songwriter and gospel musician Brian Doerksen talks of reinventing Psalms and spreading the message of love through music

Come Sunday and Bengaluru will host one of the country’s biggest gospel music festivals – Freshfire India 2016. Hosted by Sanctuary Music, the event’s headliner will be Canadian Christian singer-songwriter and worship leader Brian Robert Doerksen. The award-winning gospel musician has composed some of the most popular songs in India’s gospel music scene including like ‘Refiner's Fire’, ‘Hope of the Nations’, ‘Hallelujah (Your love is amazing)’, ‘The River’, ‘All I Need’ and ‘Come Now is the Time to Worship.’

Teaming up with him is his band and closest friends The Shiyr Poets, featuring Calum Rees, Brian Thiessen and Teresa Trask, who together create and perform progressive folk-rock settings of Psalms.

On his first visit to India, Brian is excited to be surrounded by the colourful sights, smells and sounds. “And Indian music! That’s one of the reasons I wanted to come to India for a long time. Probably like other Westerners, my exposure to Indian music comes through films, like The Best Exotic Marigold Hotel, with a Westernised Indian instrumental music. I love that. My wife makes this incredible curry dish and we play this music in the background and it is total bliss.”

He adds that he also lives in a community in Western Canada where one-third of the population is from Punjab. “So I’m surrounded by people in saris and turbans, speaking Punjabi and eating great Indian food. It kind of feels like I’ve never been here before, but I’ve also been here before.”

“It is obviously a great privilege to bring my music here,” the veteran artiste says. “What makes it all the more special is that a year ago I had India in mind. My desire is that the nations be free to worship in their mother tongue and culture. I was praying specially for India. Within a month, I received three invitations. That has never happened before. I knew this was the right time. One year later, here I am.”

Brian says that the ancient words they sing, have been given a new perspective. “Our focus is on the Psalms in The Bible with words such as trust and hope in the times of great change and great challenge. These ancient words have been sung by the faithful for thousands of years. We are singing them now with a new melody. For me, I want people to walk away from the concert knowing that these ancient words have deep roots and we can trust in God in difficult times.

“We have six children, three of whom have special needs. We love them and believe they are great gifts to us. It is a lesson that sometimes, grace comes to us in disguise.”

Reworking the Psalms is a project Brian undertook with The Shiyr Poets. “The four of us are good friends. The three of them have been working me for about a decade or more. For different reasons, we were drawn to the Psalms. I went through a difficult situation, lost my words, stopped writing, and the Psalms were just waiting with the right words for me. Teresa works with women and addiction recovery and helps them find solace in the Psalms. That is when we decided to work together, tie up with scholars, discover their real meaning and put them to modern music.”

He adds that the music they make is energising, refreshing and creative. “This is something that needs to be experienced live to be fully understood and to get the big picture.”

With a majority of Brian’s songs sung as part of worship services all over the world, including India, the composer admits it is an incredible gift.

“I’m a shy, introvert Canadian from a small town in the West Coast of Canada. The fact that people in India know songs that I’ve written and sing them is a marvel to me. This will be my first experience singing some of those songs with you, with people who have grown up with these songs – and it is definitely going to be a moving experience for me. This is not something I take for granted. It is a gift from God, and I’m grateful to be part of it.”

Concert details

Freshfire India 2016 is the brainchild of Sanctuary Music, a Bengaluru-based platform directed by Ebenezer Moses John. “The concert will also feature 12 of Bengaluru’s best choirs and gospel bands opening for Brian and The Shiyr Poets. The aim of this initiative is to bring the community together and to promote our local talent by giving them a stage to share with international artistes.” Some of the featuring bands and choirs include the Glory Bound Band, The Acoustic Project, Gospel Addicts, Serenata Chorale Choir, Hi Praiz Band, New Generation Service Band and more. The proceeds of the concert will go in aid of underprivileged and destitute people at the Care Shelter.

Date: November 20

Time: 3 to 9 p.m.

Venue: St. Vincent Pallotti College Grounds, Kalyan Nagar (Behind Croma Showroom and Royal Concorde International School)

Donor passes: Rs. 300 and Rs. 500

Contact: 9066803911

Why you should pay for quality journalism - Click to know more

Related Topics
Recommended for you
This article is closed for comments.
Please Email the Editor

Printable version | Apr 7, 2020 1:07:07 AM | https://www.thehindu.com/features/metroplus/Touching-notes-changing-lives/article16667515.ece

Next Story