Serving the Voices Blog

Artists Posts

Voices from the Road: TD Benton // White Collar Sideshow

FB Ad Voices From the Road TD Benton

I have always struggled with Identity and who I am, especially while doing White Collar Sideshow. I’ve come to the realization that it’s easy for the thing that you do, whether it be; music, job, sports, relationships, past struggles or mistakes to define who you are or become your identity. No surprise, I’ve said it before but I probably see it more as I’m getting older.

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For me, letting my music become the wheel, or god of my life. For instance, becoming obsessed with MORE, MORE and MORE! More tours, more shows, more radio, is it time for a label, booking agent, festivals, merch sales, the vicious cycle of Want, Want, Want, and forgetting the whole time of, why do we do what we do? And then,when things don’t go my way; anger, frustration, the question of “why?”. Feelings of entitlement from hard work, loneliness, or measuring success placed on the people around you. When this becomes the god of our wheel so to say, we take this god to all of our different spokes of that wheel. What are the spokes of our daily life? The gym, spouse, kids, job, school, stage, meals, friends, concerts, conversations, addictions…and the list goes on. it’s so easy to let the emotional and mental state of our wheel take over and become our identity, at the same time if we don’t renew our mind at some point, our identity becomes the very thing we are consumed by.

I’ve had to sit down and retool my brain. Recognizing that if I’m a follower of Christ, my identity needs to be His, Christ defines me and not what I do for a living or what I’ve done in the past. A couple of friends, Ed and Brian, have challenged me with this, and it is way easier said than done for sure. If God is the center of my wheel and I take this identity to the different spokes of my daily life, then I am actually becoming a living, breathing example of the great commandment.

Focusing on Him; heart, mind and soul, then loving others as I want to be loved. Sure it’s no easy task, especially in the selfish world of art, but we have to be able to recognize when we are being consumed or when one of the spokes of our wheel is becoming our identity again. This is what I’ve been counteracting everything that begins to consume my wheel with; and also what needs to be in my wheel presently and daily – Love, Joy, Peace, Patience, Kindness, Goodness, Faithfulness, Gentleness and Self-control. I want this to be my identity! I want this to define who I am! I want to take this to my marriage, my son, family, music, stage, conversations and life in general. I want these to counteract any negative emotions and it’s up to me to recognize when I’m being consumed and put these into place. If I can practice this daily, in the present, I believe my identity will not be my own, but one of a light that shines brighter than I ever could!

I can do all things through Him who gives me strength. – Phil 4:13
I can make it through anything in the one who makes me who I am…

White Collar Sideshow is a RYFO band, but they are also part of one of our partner ministries, Steiger International. Steiger is a worldwide mission organization that is called to reach and disciple the Global Youth Culture for Jesus. They use art, music and other forms of creativity to present Jesus in a clear and relevant way, and establish a long-term presence in urban centers through ongoing outreach, discipleship and local church partnership.

Artist Testimonial // JD Vazquez

Testimonial JD Vasquez Shadow of Whales

JD Vazquez // Shadow of Whales

“I’m here to talk about an organization that is near and dear to my heart called RYFO. Recently, we were playing in Lawrence, Kansas, and as a couple of small town boys from Texas, we needed a godsend to keep us from sleeping in our van. Thanks to RYFO, we found one. After driving six hundred miles, playing a rock show, trying to connect with and thank every new fan that night, we were exhausted. The last thing we wanted to do was drive another six hundred miles. Because of the incredible people at RYFO, we didn’t have to. We had warm beds to sleep in, breakfast the next morning, and conversation with some of the nicest people we’ve met on the road. Not to mention a fond and safe farewell. The team at RYFO make it possible for bands like us to extend our reach beyond what we thought possible. We are so grateful to be partnered with them and definitely recommend it to musicians alike.”

Voices From the Road: Phinehas

Voices From the Road Lee

“Life on tour is hard. RYFO is here to help”. This statement, however simple it may seem, holds profound truth to me as it has been realized in my life over the past 4+ years. My name is Lee Humerian and I play drums in a band called Phinehas.

My first tour was also Phinehas’ first tour – a short run in the summer of  2009 that started where we were from in southern California up to Washington state and back. I’m pretty sure we did more driving than playing, but it was a chance for us to play out of state and get our feet wet in the road grind. Back then, when we weren’t driving overnight, we relied on family for a place to eat, shower and sleep.

That’s pretty much how it was for us for our next couple tours in the summers of 2010 and 2011. We would plan on playing a summer festival and book as many shows in between as we could. There were no tour budgets and no back-up plans – just (hopefully) enough fuel to get us to the next show. Twice we popped the radiator on our van. The first time we used my credit card for the repair and borrowed a family mini-van for a couple shows. The second time, we also blew a head gasket in our engine and couldn’t afford the fix. We were stranded in Cle Elum, Washington for three days until our friend Tyrone from Bakersfield drove 1000 miles one way (!) to pick us and our trailer up. This unbelievable display of kindness is one of COUNTLESS acts of selflessness we have experienced in our years of touring. I firmly believe that we wouldn’t be a band today if it weren’t for the love and blessing we’ve received by people like this.11822561_10153158925174492_7489272583621173184_n

Many of these kind, incredible acts have been poured out on us by folks we’ve met through the RYFO organization. RYFO is a non-profit advocate for outreach to musicians. Basically, they are a community of people who open their homes to touring musicians to provide not only a place to sleep, but full-fledged meals, clean showers, laundry, and many other amenities that are often difficult to find or afford while on tour.

We met a RYFO representative at a festival in 2010 and started staying in host homes consistently when we started touring full time in 2012. While playing shows every night is an absolute blast and something we in Phinehas are very fortunate to have the opportunity to do, touring can be very exhausting. After a while, the sleep-deprivation, poor eating habits, sweaty clothes and filthy van can get to you no matter how much or how little you’ve toured. That’s why we love staying at RYFO host homes so much.

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Photo Courtesy of Jonathan Kemp

Whenever we have the opportunity to stay at a RYFO home, we almost always take it. Rest is so invaluable in life, but it can be extremely difficult to come by while on the road. RYFO stays are so replenishing for me in every way: Physically, emotionally and spiritually. What they offer is so seemingly simple, but when you’ve been away from family for weeks, stuck in a dirty van and eating poorly and irregularly, a bed, shower and meal go a really long way. On top of this, there have been many times RYFO families have gone above and beyond their call of duty. We’ve had a couple drive 4 hours one way to pick us and our gear up from a transmission shop and take us to that night’s show, then drive us 4 hours back so we could pick up our van. We’ve had hot meals waiting for us at 4am after an all-night drive. We’ve received care packages of snacks and sports drinks. We’ve had long, deep conversations about life. I could truly go on and on.

Phinehas visiting one of our host homes in Oklahoma

Phinehas visiting one of our host homes in Oklahoma

Needless to say, the people involved with RYFO are incredible. We are so fortunate to know the people we’ve stayed with. Many of them have become like family to us, and it is only possible through their loving generosity. We in Phinehas are so thankful to be a part of RYFO – this organization and the host families a part of it have blessed us immensely. If you are in a touring band, we highly encourage you to sign up for RYFO. You’ll be so glad you did! If you have the heart and the means to host and these stories moved you in any way, then we would encourage you to apply to be a host home!

Grace and peace to you, and long live RYFO!
Lee Humerian & PHINEHAS

 

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Voices from the Road: Sydney Fontaine // de la CroiX

Sydney Fontaine de la croix

Broken Down
By: Sydney Fontaine 

It was our first real tour and up to that point nothing had gone right. From losing the fender of our trailer, to shredding tires, to locking our keys in the trailer, to breaking down completely. Spending hours in repair shop waiting rooms and truck stop parking lots, having to cancel shows and facing the financial strain of repairs and delays.

Looking back, I remember feeling like my prayers in those months were falling on deaf ears and that my tears of frustration were being ignored by the Lord. In retrospect I laugh at my unrelenting hopelessness towards circumstances I couldn’t control. I can’t exactly blame myself. I didn’t know what to expect from the road, but I knew it wasn’t this.

Sydney Fontaine de la CroiXWe were in Wisconsin when our RV broke down for the second time that week, only two hours from home where we were going to stop on the way to our next show. After spending 8 hours the day prior in a repair shop where we thought they had fixed the problem. The week had already put us on edge, and we really couldn’t afford the delay of another day at a repair shop. To make a long story short, we (after a long day of pacing, praying and hoping for a reasonable solution) ended up getting towed back to our home town (praise God it was only two hours from where we were stuck) and we finished the tour in our Suburban with a couple tents thrown in our trailer. It wasn’t ideal, but we laugh remembering before we had any means to travel saying we’d camp out if we had to, feeling strongly that God wanted us to be mobile. Apparently He wanted to see if we meant it.

That tour was just the beginning of our adventures, and many worse break downs and struggles have we walked through since then. For a while we thought our calling might be to tell mechanics and tow truck drivers about Jesus because of how frequently we encountered them! Things haven’t really gotten easier, but I think the more you pursue what you’re supposed to pursue, the better you understand yourself, your calling, and the Lord.

See, before I started touring I thought that ease was a direct result of success. I thought that if we were obedient, that God would make everything a cakewalk and that the repercussions of our obedience would be instantly visible. But over the past few years I’ve found that when you turn your life over to Jesus, success isn’t always marked by the tangible result of your obedience but often by obedience itself. Even if at the end of the night you’re feeling beat up and have nothing but busted guitar picks in your pocket.

Sometimes you might not know why you did it till days, weeks, years later. You might never know. But resting in the knowledge that you did what you were supposed to do is a pretty sweet feeling.

This is my encouragement to you: most of us want to see mountains moved and tides turned when we give God room to work. We want to see the whole picture fabricate before our eyes, and it makes me wonder how often we discount the times where there seems to be no resolve, no ‘fruit’ of our labor. But how beautiful to be able to rest assured that He is faithful, and that his power is perfected in our weakness?

When you find yourself in a season of life where you can’t see the big picture, take heart. He is working in and through you in some capacity, even when you can’t see or recognize it. The Lord never sleeps, He never turns a blind eye to your pain or your efforts. Trust that His heart for you and the causes that you’re passionate about is so much bigger than ours could ever be.

“Let us not grow weary in doing good, for at the proper time we will reap a harvest if we don’t give up.” Galatians 6:9

Praying for the Voices

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Praying for the Voices
By: Sydney Fontaine

Music is a beacon in the lives of many. It’s a form of communication that is often taken for granted, but rarely tuned out. Music carries us through our workdays, and serves as the back drop for many monumental experiences. Music has intrinsic value which is exemplified through the profound effect it has on our daily lives.

Have you ever stopped to ask yourself, “What’s going on behind the music?” Musicians are on the front lines of our culture, walking in the authority that we’ve given them by lending an ear to their voice. These individuals speak into the hearts and minds of our generation, and we choose to listen because they allow their passions and beliefs and convictions to spill out of them.  As believers and a group of people that are passionate about music, we are called to do more than merely listen to the voices of these cultural warriors. We are called to serve these voices.

So how do you serve? I can think of an excellent way that you can begin this very moment, Prayer!

Prayer is our strongest ammunition against the chaos in this world. Our prayers work in ways that we are unable to. Through prayer we are able to ask God for His insight and intervention in the lives of the musicians that we serve. We are able to submit the things that we desperately want to care for into the hands of a God whose heart for the music community is so much bigger than ours.

Show how would you go about praying for musicians? Here are 10 prayers that you can praying…

Pray first and foremost that these artists would encounter the Lord and be drawn to Him. Pray that the love of Christ would be unavoidable to them as they navigate through the struggles that come with life on the road. Pray that they would embrace the roles they’ve stepped into as “culture-shapers” and role models and that their impact would have positive repercussions. Pray for their physical well-being, that they would have everything they stand in need of, and that in God’s provision He reminds them each of His goodness and faithfulness. Pray that they would have the strength to withstand the temptations that they  face both at home and on the road. Pray that they would have the courage to say, “no,” when it would be all too easy to say, “yes.” Pray that they would be constantly aware that their integrity has a value that’s not worth trading for temporary pleasures. Pray that they would be able to combat their loneliness and find genuine, loyal friendships that point them to the Lord. Faithful friendships that transcend state lines are difficult to find! Pray for their families back home, that God would comfort them and bring them peace and understanding as their loved one faces battles that they often can’t explain in a phone call. Pray that God would bring wise individuals to speak truth into their lives at every turn, for their encouragement and sustenance.

Ephesians 6:18 says this: “And pray in the Spirit on all occasions with all kinds of prayers and requests.  With this in mind, be alert and always keep on praying for all the Lord’s people.” We’re called to pray in accordance with the Holy Spirit’s leading, but pray nonetheless! Let’s not miss this call to intercede on behalf of these musicians. We have the opportunity to call upon the God we serve to provide for and shape those that shape our culture. Let’s serve these voices in a way that will never cease to be effective and LET’S START NOW!

Voiceless

Voiceless

Voiceless
By: Rihanna Teixeira

Growing up, we all have big dreams. If you ask a classroom of kindergartners what they want to be when they grow up, you’ll hear answers ranging from astronauts, to doctors, to actors, and teachers. We are born with an internal desire to be and do something great. For me the stage was all I dreamed about.

At the age of six, I discovered my mom’s Amy Grant records (yes, records) and began playing them on repeat.  Songs like El Shaddai, Sing Your Praise to the Lord, and Father’s Eyes became my anthem and my family quickly caught on that I had an obsession.  Night after night, I would literally spend hours in my room with the music blasting, pretending that I was singing on a large stage, and everyone in the audience was there to see me.  Becoming a singer quickly became a focus in my life and at eight years old, my parents finally allowed me to pursue it.

I spent a lot of my time singing and performing at events and in choirs.  As I became a teenager, I was a force to be reckoned with.  I had no fear in calling and asking random event planners if I could sing at their event.  I offered up my talent to anyone who seemed interested.  It wasn’t until I was eighteen that I felt like my dreams were finally becoming a reality.  I was in Los Angeles for a singing competition and was approached by a man in a shiny suit who claimed that he could make all my dreams come true.  My mother and I drove to his office and from there he schmoozed us with a fancy dinner and conversation filled with names of Hollywood big-shots.  Before I knew it, I was recording my first demo at Paramount studios; the experience was surreal.

One thing led to another and I found myself on a plane to Atlanta, Georgia to record with a Grammy award-winning producer.  This time, I didn’t have my mother, or anyone for that matter, with me.  I still remember the fear that overtook me as I stepped off the plane and realized that I would be alone for the next few weeks in a city I knew nothing about.  It was during this trip that my voice began to disappear.  I remember trying to speak up during the writing sessions if I didn’t like an idea, and I would be quickly shut down. The producer would mock me saying, “I just wrote Mariah’s new album and it’s number one. Do you really think I don’t know what I’m doing?”  I ended up recording three songs with him, all of which I hated.

My voice was no longer my own.

Looking back, I realize that what I really needed was support.  A ministry like RYFO could have saved me from a lot of anxiety and fear that I was facing alone.  I needed someone to process with or just vent to.  RYFO’s Host Homes have an amazing opportunity to really speak life back into the areas of musicians lives that may be shut down.  I encourage you readers that aren’t part of RYFO’s ministry to consider becoming a host home.  In doing so, you could be the one who prevents a musician from losing their voice.

Life and Lyrics

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Photo Courtesy of Fire At Will Photography

Life and Lyrics
By: Sydney Fontaine

I love music. I love the feeling of strings against my fingers. I love it when you can hear the audience lifting their voices, and see them stomping and clapping to the beat. I love when you can feel a buzz in the air from the music resonating with the people in the room. I love it when the message we bring to the stage impacts people. I love that music is such a diverse art form.

Music isn’t just a string of words to communicate a point. It pulls you into the emotions of the artist. You’re not only hearing their convictions and passions, but you’re experiencing the emotions they’re experiencing. You’re drawn into the picture that they’re painting. That’s a powerful tool, and the effect that it has on us can be life-altering.

One of the biggest things I’ve learned as an artist is that my words carry a limited amount of authority in the lives of those I interact with. What really matters to people is that your actions are in line with the convictions you sing and write about. This realization can be intimidating. It’s easy for me to string together eloquent words on how you can make a difference in the lives of those around you, but until I show you proof, none of it matters.

I pray that my life exemplifies surrender.

That’s why I travel around, casting off the familiar and comfortable and replacing it with a life that demonstrates what I believe. That’s why I play music. I believe God has a plan for our lives that’s bigger than what we could every imagine. I believe that He calls us to love others more than our reputation and personal comfort. I believe in giving it all up to Him every day.

As I’ve had the pleasure of writing for RYFO, it’s spurred me into contemplating what defines the voices that RYFO works so hard to serve. Why do we put up with sleeping on floors and in vans, and driving through the night to get to shows that we may or may not break even at? Because we’ve been a given a platform to bear our hearts to people. We have their ear and we need to take it. For the sake of what we’re called to communicate, we must take that risk.

A lot of people I’ve talked to on the road seem to think this kind of radical obedience to a call is out of reach for them. Don’t fall into that way of thinking! You have just as much (if not more) capacity than I do to live with passion and conviction. Find a way to communicate the message you want your life to convey and go for it.

Music is my medium. What’s yours?

Home for the Holidays

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Home for the Holidays
By: Sydney Fontaine

I was taken aback the other day, when upon entering a local store, I saw that everything was decked out in Christmas decorations. It is after Halloween, but I’m somehow never quite ready for the Holiday Season to come. There is never enough time between the end of Summer and when everyone breaks out the Christmas music for me to prepare for it.

This is always a strange time of year for me personally, as well as for other travelers.  The lifestyle of a touring musician doesn’t really cater to traditions, or cozy holidays in familiar surroundings. Most years it’s difficult enough to pinpoint where home is, let alone figure out if you’re going to be there for the holidays or not. This is a challenge my family and I face each year, as we find a new normal to fit the season in life we find ourselves in.  We were created for community, and our desire is to be with people, to celebrate and live alongside them. This time of year brings much emphasis to this aspect of life that is often times missing on the road, or whatever city you settle in for the winter. When you feel the sense of anticipation growing each day, your thoughts begin to spin in the direction of your family. Maybe it’s blood relatives that you long to be with, who you haven’t seen in 6 months. Or maybe it’s the other ‘family’ that you’ve met on the road, and shared those trials with that you can only become familiar with by experience.  Where ever your heart may be, it’s not always possible to be there physically. The pain of separation is very real.

But, as He does, God always seems to remedy the heartaches that come with distance. Even in loneliness, this time of year is in place to recognize and celebrate the hope we have in Christ. To remember the incredible humility with which He came to save us. I pray that although we feel far off, and detached from the warmth of home and the cheerful voices that used to surround us often, that we would allow this hope to be our fuel. That it  would produce in us perseverance to continue to be a voice, and a light with every note we sing.  That we would be empowered to continue to lead people to a place where they too recognize the reason they are breathing. This is the greatest joy for me, in music and in life.

Pieces of a Story

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Pieces of a Story
By: Sydney Fontaine

The first time I heard the name “RYFO” I was sitting on a church pew in Nashville after a long night of street ministry. I have to confess that since I went to bed at 3:00 AM I was probably more asleep than I was awake.  I don’t remember who was sharing about it, and I don’t remember what they said, but I do recall that at the end of the presentation I was wide awake and writing down their website.

At that time in my life I never anticipated the impact that an organization like RYFO could have on a small band from central California, all I knew was that the concept was incredibly intriguing and captivating. I never anticipated that I would be (nervously) writing this blog a little over a year later. But God’s workings are much much different than ours, and if I’ve learned one thing, it’s that His plans are significantly better than mine.

In 2009 God called my family out of the walls of the church, where my dad was a full-time youth and worship pastor into full-time music ministry. In the past four years, I’ve gone from living in a house, to a basement, to an RV with my two brothers and parents, also known as my band mates.  Before we were called out of the church, I was  leading a comfortable lifestyle with comfortable aspirations. But throughout this journey my heart has been permanently changed. My life is no longer my own, it belongs to the Lord. Now I find myself sharing the hope of Christ with people through music in situations I often feel unprepared for.

Daily I am in contact with artists across the country that do the same, and who are searching for people to come along side them, to pray with them, to encourage them, to keep them accountable. Sometimes all we need is someone to simply “get it”, when we’re stuck on the side of the road for the 8th time with a blown tire or celebrating a holiday with another 10 hour drive.   This is the reason that RYFO resonates with me. It’s meeting artists where they are-in a state of exhaustion, in a state of an unsure future, in a state of feeling alone, and reminding us who we are in Christ. Reminding us that there is a significant purpose behind what we’re doing and that it’s more than just drive, play, sleep, repeat. God is moving in a family of believers who are passionate about redeeming the arts , and I am honored to have the opportunity to share pieces of that story with you.

Mike Mains & The Branches Talks RYFO

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Mike Mains & The Branches Talks RYFO
By Cathy Hill

Michigan-based alternative band Mike Mains & the Branches has made good use of the RYFO network of host homes over the past few years. “I’d say that 95 percent of the places we stay on the road are RYFO homes,” says Shannon Briggs Mains. “We always know they will be welcoming and comfortable places.”

Mike likens RYFO to Starbucks: “I like going to Starbucks because it’s consistent. Each place has its own atmosphere but what you get there is reliable.” The band is glad to know that homes are pre-screened; “you never know what you might get when you accept a random offer to stay somewhere.”

But room and board are just the beginning of the benefits they cite when asked about the role of RYFO. There is so much more to the ministry.

Mike, Shannon and the band look forward to RYFO stays, both new and repeat. Shannon enjoys how the relationships with the hosts deepen with each stay. “The first time they are a RYFO home. The next time it’s the home in Naperville. Then it’s the Hill family. Each time we stay we feel a deeper level of relationship.”

Mike agrees. “Now we have a network of families around the country. The Shevlots and Lubs are our Indiana families. The Kazarians are our east coast family. The Wallaces are our Arkansas family. And as family, they not only welcome us, but challenge us and keep us accountable as well.”

One of the bands’ most memorable experiences came in the midst of a very trying time. Their van was stolen, along with not only their gear and merchandise, but also with birthday presents for Shannon. (And we all know how much we like birthday presents!) Yes, insurance and donations covered the gear, but Shannon was especially touched by the RYFO homes along the way that gave her birthday presents, and even surprised her with a homemade ice cream cake! “That’s what family does,” says Shannon.

As the band continues to travel as God leads, Mike Mains & the Branches look forward to meeting more of their ever-growing RYFO family. 

To learn more about Mike Mains & The Branches, visit their Facebook and check out their NEW ALBUM!