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Slow down as you approach the gate, and have your change ready....
Sam Rowland is one of the best kept secrets in North America but countries such as Singapore, Namibia, Burma, Peru, Denmark, Ecuador, Mauritius and several African nations have welcomed this country crossover artist with welcome arms. Rowland, a Canadian living in British Columbia, Canada, says he enjoys far more freedom to share his faith in other countries than he does in his homeland or the United States.
Rowland’s website, <http://www.samrowland.org/> really defines what he is all about. Rowland’s music can best be described as Brooks and Dunn meet Mercy Me. This husband to Rita and father of four children has worked tirelessly at Youth for Christ both home and abroad and many of his songs have their origins in those experiences.
While serving on a mission trip to Lima Peru, Rowland had what he describes as a life changing experience. He relates an incident involving an elderly woman, “When I first saw this woman out of the corner of my eye I thought she had come as a beggar and my attitude really wasn’t the best.” The team had been busy all day mixing and hauling cement by hand with only shovels and wheelbarrows. Under the intense heat of the Peruvian sun the members of the team were wilting. They were behind schedule and he didn’t think they were going to make it and “All of a sudden here’s this lady, this old lady hunched over with a margarine container and I thought, 'Oh no she’s going to slow us down even more.' She was really stooped over. She was about eighty years old. She had a little baby on her back. She had just one eye. She had a big black hole on the other side where her other eye should have been. So my initial thought, which I am now embarrassed about, was, 'Oh, just what we need; someone to come through here and upset the girls, freak out the kids and we’re going to slow down.' Then she started with that little margarine container scooping up sand and dirt and pouring it where we were mixing the cement. I think all of us had tears streaming down our faces at that point and suddenly we all had a new energy to keep going.” Even today, you can still hear the emotion in Rowland’s voice as he says, “She was about as far from Donald Trump as you could possibly get and yet God was showing his strength and pouring his strength through her in a way that was life changing for those of us who saw it.”
Rowland says his songwriting, “Comes from the struggles of life. One of the songs that has made more impact than any other I wrote is a song called, “Twenty Minutes to Say I Love You”. It is about a little boy who had twenty minutes with his parents after he was born, before he was taken away for heart surgery and he didn’t come back.” Like most of the songs that he writes, this one is about people Rowland knew personally. What has been surprising to him is how many teenagers will approach him following his concerts and ask which album this song appears on.
“Twenty Minutes to Say I Love You” is, “A song about the gift of God that is given to us every day that we have to spend with other people. [It is a song about] making the most of that and not taking it for granted. I think so often we think that God owes us eighty years and God owes us a long life with our spouse. As time goes on, the beauty of life, the pain of life and the mess of life, it’s all an inspiration to me,“ he says.
“The themes that I am communicating are probably a little wider and a little deeper than they were when I first started,” he says. “I guess I have discovered that life is both much richer and more wonderful but also much messier than I initially anticipated. “ He says the track “Amazingly Incredible Beauty,” from the album Jump would have been titled, “The Amazingly Incredible Beauty of This Unfinished Mess,” if it had fit on the CD. “It talks about how life is not all within the lines like we probably hoped it would be, but it’s a little messier and more dangerous. It’s harder and it’s more heartbreaking. It’s also much more beautiful and much more wonderful.” He goes on to add that his music has also evolved to reflect more upon his relationship with God and the hope that it brings him.
He describes himself as a story teller but that really does not do justice to the quality of music created by Rowland and the masterful work of his producer Roy Salmond from Whitewater Productions in Vancouver Canada. Two songs in particular from his CD Jump, released in June of 2004, belie the mere storyteller image. The songs “I Will Walk With You” and “Dance of Grace” remind one of the band “Mercy Me” (“I Can Only Imagine”). Both songs are soulful, contemplative and demonstrate the richness of Rowland’s voice. The song “Pachelbel’s Prayer,” from his album Nothing to Prove/Nothing to Lose can only be described as one of his most beautiful songs to date. It is based on Pachelbel’s "Canon."
Some musicians and artists have studied music formally for many years while still others have been inspired by some of the all-time greats. Ask Sam Rowland where his inspiration came from while he was growing up and he says it came from television programs like the _Brady Bunch_ and the _Partridge Family_. He says, “Although I thought Susan Partridge was cute, David Partridge was my hero because he was writing songs and singing and it just looked like fun to me.” There was one particular episode of the _Brady Bunch_ where the character Greg got to go into a recording studio and sing, “And I thought, boy, that looks like so much fun and if I could ever do anything like that, it would be great.”
Rowland has experienced a lot of different cultures and is internationally acknowledged as a speaker, singer and songwriter but his goals are simple. He would like to take his wife Rita to Africa with him to experience the culture, walk a daughter down the aisle, and hold a grandchild in his arms.
By Joe Montague, exclusive rights reserved
Joe Montague is an internationally
published journalist / photographer. His ministry is dedicated to the memory
of his late son Kent David Montague who went to heaven at the age of 18.
All copyright and distribution rights remain the property of Joe Montague.