For any group of deeply committed Christian musicians, passionate about using their talents for God's glory, it sounds like something you can only wish for: practice hard, learn to love each other as brothers in Christ, and then sign a contract with a major Christian record company. The way it really happened for Scott Roberts, Mike Hurst and Kevin "Toby" Tobias was more than they could have thought to wish for: they signed their contract with Pamplin Music on stage at the Nashville Arena at the 1999 Dove Awards pre-telecast event. The one-year anniversary of that signing marks the impressive debut of the band called Solomon's Wish, three young men with a wisdom beyond their years and a knack for coupling insightful lyrics to tightly-crafted pop melodies, wrapped in acoustic-overdrive guitars and complex vocal harmonies.
Entitled A Wise Man's Tragedy, the majority of the group's first album was produced by Brad O'Donnell, a noted songwriter known to many Christian music fans as husband and bass player for Erin O'Donnell. Dove Award winning songwriter and producer Don Koch also contributed to the project. Lyrically, the project has a depth that will make listeners think, ranging from the passionate cut, "Waterfall," revealing the magnitude of God's love for us, to the biblical story of "Mary's Alabaster Jar," co-written with Brad O'Donnell. "Fireside" tells of how our heart is Christ's home, based on the story by Robert Boyd Munger, and reflects on the time that we spend with Him there.
The naming of the band came out of one of the group's first songwriting sessions. "Mike brought the idea of 'The Wish' to us-how although Solomon asked God for wisdom, a noble request, he still fell. And it made us think about what we would ask for if God were to grant us one wish," says Scott. "As we talked about how, if given the same opportunity, we would ask to be closer to God than any man has ever been, we realized that this was the name for the band-Solomon's Wish. Our ministry and music are just that, a way to challenge people to look at their own faith and relationships with God, and to help bring them closer than they've been before."
“The effect that it had on all of us, in one way or another, was learning to follow God when it doesn't make any sense, when you know it's Him speaking, and he's saying, 'Do this.' Most of the time, it's doing the thing that's right in front of you, and trusting God instead of worrying. He cares infinitely more about you and your life that you could ever hope or imagine.”
"We want to build relationships with every segment of our audience, and earn the right to reveal God's truth to them," says Mike. "We can only do this by listening to God's direction at every turn, from our personal lives to our songwriting to communicating with our audiences. Our approach for the music of Solomon's Wish from the beginning has always been to write about the things that God happens to be speaking to us about at the time. Hopefully the songs on A Wise Man's Tragedy will speak to others the way He has spoken to us."
While any serious Christian musician would rightly acknowledge God's hand in the workings of career and life decisions, the members of Solomon's Wish can still only shake their heads in amazement at the unlikely events that joined these three, from different states, widely divergent musical backgrounds, and vastly different spiritual journeys. "There's no way this would have happened, no way the three of us would be together, if it wasn't God," says Scott.
Hailing from Michigan, Tennessee and Illinois, these three guys grew up loving music, and dreaming big dreams, but the reality of adulthood and family life took them elsewhere. Mike made a name for himself in the shipping business after college, and after pursuing a solo career in music, had all but given it up. Kevin sold his guitars and amplifiers to pay for rent and diapers, in a tough period before landing a job in the printing industry, forcing him to give up playing guitar for almost 10 years. Scott, from a family of music industry veterans, kept close to the music, from his days as a popular mobile DJ to a stint in a resort band on Michigan's famed Mackinac Island. "I wanted to pursue music, and when my parents moved to Nashville, I came to visit and loved it," Scott says. "When my resort gig was over, I moved down here, and just prayed that I could be faithful to whatever the Lord called me to." That included leading worship and working with the youth group at his church, in a small town just north of Nashville. That's where he met Kevin, who'd moved from rural west Tennessee closer to Music City. When the two wound up at the same small-town church, in the same choir and worship team, a joint project brought Mike into their lives...much to the dismay of Scott, who is still amazed at God's timing.
"Someone had booked him for a youth event, and I literally fought to have him not come," says Scott. "My attitude was, 'Hey, does anybody know who this guy is? What does he sound like?" It was a night to remember, according to Mike. "I had actually given up on my music, and hadn't played my guitar in months, so I had really had to practice. These guys ended up jumping on stage with me during rehearsal."
When this series of unlikely events finally brought the three together, they found they had very little in common, musically speaking. "I wanted to do a Spin Doctors/funk thing with lots of harmonies," says Scott.
"Mike is more of a REM kinda guy...that Athens, Georgia, scene is right up his alley," says Kevin. "And I'm into that King's X kind of thing-I'm really a rocker. We really didn't like each other's taste in music, to be honest."
Hardly a promising start to a band's career. But it was redeemed shortly thereafter. "We decided to try and write together and for some strange reason it worked," Kevin continues. The resulting song was "Circle in the Sand," a kinetic cut that is found on their debut.
With vastly different musical interests and lives, there really weren't any good reasons for these guys to be together--unless you subscribe to the belief that God is in control of circumstances, that He loves us more than we can ever imagine, and that He cares deeply about the details of our lives. That's the premise of the Bible study, Experiencing God, which had a pivotal role in the individual and corporate lives of these three.
"Unbeknownst to us, we were all studying that book: three different guys, at three different places, all at the same time," says Mike. "It's so obvious to us how God used that in all our lives."
There's a thread that runs through all their studies of Experiencing God, says Mike. "The effect that it had on all of us, in one way or another, was learning to follow God when it doesn't make any sense, when you know it's Him speaking, and he's saying, 'Do this.' Most of the time, it's doing the thing that's right in front of you, and trusting God instead of worrying. He cares infinitely more about you and your life that you could ever hope or imagine."
That's the core message of A Wise Man's Tragedy, especially the album's first single "The Grand Scheme," written by Tommy Collier and Scott Faircloff, and one of only two songs on the album not written by the band. "Originally, we tried to get Tommy to change a verse, let us make it our own, but he wouldn't budge. We saw his passion for the song, and where it came from, and later, we found out why this is the way it was supposed to be."
Two months later, at a Solomon's Wish concert in Gatlinburg, the song found its place in a most powerful way. "When we arrived, they told us that this high school guy named Tim who was in charge of booking bands had picked ours out of the bunch without even listening to the music," says Scott. "He'd gone to all these planning meetings, and said, 'I've prayed about this, and I feel strongly that the Holy Spirit is going to use these guys.' From only reading our bio, he told people, 'God is going to do something incredible through these guys. This is the band.' One week later, he was killed in a car accident."
"Little did he know just how the Holy Spirit was going to work...when I asked during the concert, 'Whose life was touched by Tim while he was alive?' almost every hand went up."
That's when the song came alive for Solomon's Wish. "When we started the song," says Scott, "I sensed the Holy Spirit saying, 'If you never play it again, this weekend is enough.' This weekend is the reason God gave us this song. We all struggle with the 'why"-- Why Columbine? Why this tragedy or that? It doesn't make sense. But that's why we can sing this song with passion, because of that weekend, because of a high school guy named Tim. There's a far bigger plan than any of us can imagine, and God is weaving it together. He's writing a grand scheme, and one day we will see."
With A Wise Man's Tragedy hitting stores only two years after the group first began playing together, it is easy to see the grand scheme that God has working in the lives of Scott, Mike and Kevin. Weaving together lives and experiences, lyrics and harmonies, Solomon's Wish creates a tapestry that reflects God's hand in their own walk, inviting listeners to become a part of that experience.
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