After months of not being able to attend concerts, Taylor students saw up-and-coming Christian artist Chris Renzema take the stage in Rediger Chapel on Oct 18.
"The concert was truly a fantastic night, Sophomore Micheal Oliver said. “A great combination of good art and meaningful worship."
The event was organized by Taylor Student Organization’s (TSO) Mainstage cabinet, who welcomed the Gospel singer/songwriter as a part of the first covid concert of the year.
Junior Odessa Wieland is the president of Mainstage this year and spoke to some of the challenges of trying to put together a concert.
From coordinating with Steve Austin, director of student programs, and the Pandemic Response Team, Mainstage was able to make the show happen. The movement of Indiana to Stage 5 even allowed for the concert to be moved indoors, as it was originally scheduled to be outside.
Tickets were free for students and, in order to remain safe and socially distanced, attendance was capped at 400 tickets total.
Wieland saw value in making the concert free so that any student who wanted could attend.
“To mirror the teaching of Jesus, if you want to be at the table, you can be at the table,” Wieland said. “I hate putting fences up and keeping people out of places.”
Renzema kicked off the night at Taylor with his song “Let the Ground Rest.”
However, this was not Renzema’s first time in Rediger. On stage, he joked about the one year he attended Taylor and lived in Gerig. He only completed two semesters of credits before pursuing a full time career in producing his own music.
“School is not for everyone,” Renzema quipped, “but it’s for you guys.”
While at school, Renzema said he spent time in the Clyde Meredith Prayer Chapel in Sickler Hall. That is where he ended up writing the song ‘Adonai,’ a song that still remains a favorite of fans and a staple to his set list to this day.
During the concert, Renzema told the audience a story about how he wrote the song ‘God Be,’ based on the traditional hymn ‘Be Thou my Vision.’ He said that he was at his job, hanging drywall, and had forgotten his headphones. He started singing ‘Be Thou my Vision,’ but could only remember one line, from there he just started adding his own which created one of his favorite songs, ‘God Be.’
Throughout the course of the night, Renzema played a collection of old and new songs—one of those new songs being less than 24 hours old called ‘Tear My House Down.’
The song was written before Renzema even attended Taylor, but it never felt like the right time to release it, Renzema said.
Renezma said that he has recently been wrestling with the question of what is a firm foundation. He said that this song makes more sense now then it did back when he wrote it.
“It is the idea that Jesus is the foundation and that in all of the noise, and all of the insanity that's going on right now, we can look to him and see what the truth is,” Renzema said. “And that is such good news. Ultimately, if we look at our lives and we see that we built our world on a foundation that's not Jesus, the most gracious and beautiful that the Lord can do for us is to tear that down.”
Renzema self-released his first album in 2014, ‘Age to Age,’ when he was 18 years old. His second album was released in 2018 and it is titled, ‘I’ll be the Branches.’ As this album gained more recognition, Renzema caught the attention of Centricity Music and signed with them. His newest album, ‘Let the Ground Rest,’ was released this year and includes his Grammy-nominated song ‘SpringTime,’ co-written by Hank Bentley.
Wieland was excited that Mainstage was able to host their first concert of the year and that she had a chance to bring Renzema to Taylor, a place full of some of Renzema’s biggest fans.
“It was really beautiful to see people worship together,” Wieland said. “That was huge. We didn’t really know if concerts were going to be a thing that we could even do. It was cool to see it come to life.”