The world in which we live consists of terrorist attacks, devastating hurricanes, an AIDS epidemic, tragic and sudden deaths, inevitable wars, hunger stricken nations, nuclear war testing and seemingly insurmountable civil unrest. It is these times that the group Music Theology sings about in their new album, Troubled Times.
Music Theology is led by Eastern alum Scott Silver, who owns his own production company.
Six students from Eastern also took part in the project: Antonia and Albert Vega, Shovaughn Chism, Chivon Hassan, and Scott and Juanita Silver. Some of the students were vocalists and others helped with musical arrangement. Chism played a large part in the configuration of the album.
“If anyone hears an unusually beautiful-sounding harmony structure that sounds so good you have to listen again, the chances are Chism arranged it,” Silver said.
The album contains 15 songs, one being strictly a spoken testimony. According to Chism, recording the album was a “very long, tiresome project.” The hours of the recording were also long, often going until 3:30AM.
After listening to the first few songs, I can say that I was drawn to the arrangement of the music, as it gave off a gospel-soul feel. As I began to intently listen to the lyrics of the songs, I realized that there was great depth and meaning to the words that were being sung.
The first song on the album is entitled “Grace,” and has an upbeat pace while focusing on how God’s love and mercy makes one happy. The next song, “Troubled Times” takes after the album’s name. This somber tune takes aim at the injustice of the world, and one can feel that God is absent during times of tragedy.
“People must realize that we are living in Troubled Times. Yet, God is gracious and good! The album combines the theme of God’s goodness alongside the suffering people of the world,” Silver said in an email.
After the first two songs, there are a variety of upbeat praise songs, which include “I Praise,” “I Love to Praise” and “Do You Hate Me?”
The songs “Njalo” and “Wa Mo Tseba Jeso” both incorporate African blends of music with praising and theological questions. “Njalo” is simply a praise song, praising God regardless of how devastating a situation may be. “Wa Mo Tseba Jeso” asks the question ‘Do you really know Jesus?’ Both songs have the basic chorus sung in the rich African language, followed by English lyrics. Each song is intricately woven together and speaks powerfully with the combination of the languages.
“I wanted to reach a broad array of audiences, so I tried mixing different styles on the same CD to make it hard to brand what style of inspirational music Music Theology performs. The sound of Africa in the CD gives a testimony – like a prophetic word from the greatest sufferers,” Silver said.
The album closes out with several more tracks. These tracks include an entire track of testimony; one of a young, pregnant woman, as well as a soldier’s story about how God protected him from fighting in the Iraq war.
Chism leads the charge on the song “Messiah,” as he is the lead vocalist and pianist, as well as the arranger of both the music and the words.
“”Messiah” was my favorite song. It came to me one night while I was standing outside, and I said “Messiah” out loud,” Chism said. “The moonlight was beaming directly on me, and I just started singing the song outside. After that, it took about 2 weeks for me to write all of the lyrics.”
The last two songs, “Another Reason,” and “Yes, Amen,” focus on reasons to keep praising God, as well as trusting God regardless of hardships. “Yes, Amen” has an upbeat gospel flow as it closes out the album.
Overall, I have thoroughly enjoyed this album and I highly recommend it. The quality of music exemplifies great skill as well as countless hours in the studio. Furthermore, it is awesome to see an Eastern alumnus organize and produce an album that pinpoints matters which touch the heart and stir the mind of those who listen.
Silver ended his email with thoughts on both his album and the impact he wishes it will have.
“I hope many people are able to enjoy my music – to dance to it – to think to it – to cry to it, and in songs like “Wa Mo Tseba Jeso,” I hope people are able to drop their mouths in shock while dancing to it. That is the essence of Music Theology,” Silver said.
Troubled Times is available in the EU bookstore.