Calling Out Closer rocks the stage at Purple Door

Senior Ben Smither’s fingers flew across the keyboard as he crooned the melody of “Stars and Broken Hearts,” at the Purple Door festival. He joined fellow Calling Out Closer band mates on stage at the annual Christian music event held in Lewisberry, Pa., on Aug. 15 and 16.

It took two rounds of Battle of the Bands for the group to reach the festival’s main stage, opening Satuday’s session with a 10 a.m. performance.

Smither, Bryn Graybill, Ryan Graybill and Chris Williamson have come far from their roots as young teens on a church worship team. After performing on the same stage as Skillet, Disciple and Emery, the members of Calling Out Closer no longer settle for seats in the audience.

“We were hanging out with The Mint,” Smither said, still sounding a bit shocked. “Emery was staying a few doors down from us at our hotel.”

For most people, the closest they’ll get to Skillet is the front row seat at a concert, amidst crazed screaming. Smither swears that he did his best not to gawk as Jon Cooper passed him backstage.

“We were sort of geeking out-I’ll admit it,” Smither said, laughing.

According to Smither, the signature sound that burst through the speakers at Purple Door resulted from combining each member’s musical tastes. Smither’s goal is that the music and lyrics, inspired by everything from books to relationships, reflect their differences.

“We want everyone to bring their own flavor,” Smither said. “Not just to do what we’re telling them.”

As to balancing their rising fame with the workload of a new semester, Smither acknowledges that it can become overwhelming. Calling Out Closer is scheduled to play at eight shows in the next six weekends, so Smither will attempt to finish his schoolwork during the week, leaving weekends open for the band.

“It’s tough sometimes,” Smither said.

And although his sociology major has seemingly little to do with Calling Out Closer, Smither hopes to utilize his education in the band’s future.

“I’m looking for what I’m learning in classes to inform what the band is doing, where the lyrics are going,” Smither explained.

There’s no doubt that Smither has big plans. He has aspirations to play in the band fulltime, and not just because he loves performing. Even as Purple Door has given Calling Out Closer a large amount of exposure, Smither still keeps his priorities in focus.

“We want it to be a ministry,” Smither said. “We don’t just want to do it as a job-we don’t want to lose sight of who we’re doing it for.”

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