June 01--HARRISTOWN -- As far back as he can remember, Anthony Facello has known that he wanted to make a career out of music. Unlike many of his classmates, though, Facello's dreams weren't of rock 'n' roll or pop music stardom. Because for just as long, he's also known that he wanted his music to serve his faith.
"This is the only thing that I've ever wanted to do; it was always my goal," said Facello, a tenor singer and founder of gospel group Beyond the Ashes, which performs Sunday, June 9, at Camp Wilson Foursquare Church in Harristown. "I first felt the calling when I was a kid and I knew this was what I was supposed to do. And as musicians, my parents understood the call."
That call to musical service led Facello through a number of gospel groups before he founded Beyond the Ashes as a side project seven years ago. The trio was never intended to be a full way of life, but as Facello puts it, "God had other plans" for him and his musical partners.
"Soon it was clear that God was saying 'this is what I called you to do, so get to it,' " Facello recalled. "We applied the Prayer of Jabez, saying 'bless us and enlarge our territory,' not to become more famous but to grow the pool of people that we can reach with our ministry."
Unsurprisingly, Facello views that ministry, and by extension his band, as spiritually focused first and foremost. Their highest priority at each appearance is to reach out to the audience on a spiritual level.
"I would say that number one is to glorify Jesus in everything we do," he said. "We want the audience to experience laughter, joy and reflective moments during the show. They should leave feeling like they have been to church, not just a gospel concert. Hopefully they walk out with a feeling of something they didn't have when they walked in, maybe a little lighter and less burdened."
Musically, the group blends gospel influences from all over the musical spectrum. Facello picks and chooses his favorite elements of Southern and contemporary gospel music and doesn't bother with an overall label, saying it's ultimately unimportant to the band and its fans.
"People don't focus on those distinctions because it's all part of the worship experience of the concert," he said. "There are a lot of other great trios out there, but we don't try to emulate anybody. We're just three guys who aren't blood-related but sound like brothers because we're so strongly connected through our vocals."
And before every show, the singer remembers to take a moment to thank God for making his vocational dream come true. The band sees every performance as another opportunity to possibly change someone's life in the same way their own lives have been changed.
"God has absolutely done a work in my life for the last seven years, and I'm so thankful that he called me out of all the people out there," Facello said. "We're all unworthy, but he sees fit to take ordinary people like us to share and spread the message. No matter the crowd or the venue, we always give it our all because you never know who is sitting out there in the audience and how you might affect their lives."
IF YOU GO
WHO: Beyond the Ashes
WHEN: 10:30 a.m. Sunday, June 9
WHERE: Camp Wilson Foursquare Church, Harristown
ON THE WEB: www.beyondtheashesonline.com
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