BY JENNIFER STATHIS
LDS hymns turned ghetto-hip-hop-R&B-get-your-groove-on defines “Soul Saints” and their force in rejuvenating a genre of music that screams for soul.
Soul Saints, a London-based trio, uses hymns to create a different composition: music that “can’t help but make you smile,” said LDS singer/composer Michael McLean.
“They’re not taking the words or meaning out of its context,” he said. “But because it’s to different music, it has the potential to reach those who can’t be reached in any other way.”
McLean said hearing the same song in a different tune is a fresh concept and “forces me to rediscover it.”
Soul Saints Manager Wayne Scholes said the group isn’t performing for the sake of the music. He said their mission is to create something that kids can have ownership of.
Scholes said he recognizes that some people may be offended or dislike the style. “But there’s always those who will benefit, and this overrides the opposition.”
“Kids don’t like things that are fixed. They want it to grow with them,” he said. “It develops as it goes. It has flexibility to the environment. My Dad’s favorite track is ‘Pray,’ and he’s 77-years old. The point is that it appeals to everybody.”
The reason it intrigues various ages, he said, is because of the variety of musicians in the group. Singer Alex Boye is “as R&B as R&B gets,” singer Fiona Smith is “mainstream pop all about mellowness and soul,” and arranger/producer Harriet Petherick Bushman is “just completely classical.”
The three together, he said, can reach many people because their interests are diverse. “Try reaching a kid on the street by singing a hymn — yeah, good luck.”
Boye converted to The Church of Jesus Christ of Latter-day Saints at age 16. He said that although he quickly grasped the gospel, he came with influences of music that he didn’t want to let go of.
“I chose to mix the two. What I’ve realized is that you can’t stop kids from listening to their music — whatever it may be. But you can give them a purer form. You can’t throw away their CD’s, but you can offer them this.”
Soul Saints performed for a group of 30 inactive young church members in Wendover, Nev., Boye said. “They didn’t want to hear Church music. But we wanted to approach them in a spiritual aspect and help them feel uplifted.”
Scholes said by the end of the performance the girls were on the floor tickling Alex. “But, even better, they were talking about going to seminary in the morning,” he said.
Boye said that just because we’re under the same umbrella of Mormonism, we shouldn’t be limited to one type of music. On the contrary, he said, we should be open to the diversity and innovation the gospel has to offer.
Excel Records is acting as consultant while Soul Saints are in the States. Public Relations Director Mary Jones said the group is a collaboration of artists who are incredibly talented individually.
“It’s magic when they get together. They’re all dedicated in their faith, and that makes all the difference because they are wanting to portray something more than just the fresh beat.”
The group performed in the WSC Terrace Jan. 25. Darcy Creviston, a senior from Olympia, majoring in English, said “It’s like LDS contemporary, but good.”
Their CD “Hymns for the soul” is available in the BYU Bookstore for $14.95 and includes hymns “Count Your Blessings,” “When Faith Endures,” and “Teach Me to Walk in the Light,” among others.
In honor of Black History Month, Soul Saints will perform Feb. 19 at 7 p.m. in the JSB auditorium. Admission is free.