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Mitchell Zimmerman, Keegan Mitchell and Austin Lay all had some things in common: They were about the same ages, they were in the same year of school and they loved music and are musicians.
Mitchell and Keegan play acoustic guitar, and Austin plays drums. Mitchell and Keegan talked about having a Christian band, so they called Austin and asked him to join them.
They not only played Christian music, but also wrote the lyrics and the music.
Prayers have been answered, and their music has been blessed … beyond what they dreamed.
The three friends are looking forward to their first CD release show to introduce their band, Redemption 1:7, and their original music at Vandalia Junior High this Saturday, at 6:30 p.m.
Meet Mitchell, Keegan and Austin, and learn about Mitchell’s vision which inspired him to form the band in September 2011.
Meet the Band
• Mitchell Zimmerman, 17, is the lead guitar and vocalist. The son of the Rev. Tracy and Amy Zimmerman, he attends the Family Worship Center, which his father pastors.
“When we first came together, it was a rough road that I was on. I wasn’t living the life that God planned for me,” Mitchell said.
“I was going through some things. I was going to church, just to be going because I had to. Then my grandpa, Eddie Zimmerman, got really sick. Although he lived in Maryland, he and I were really close.
“We got a call that he was real sick in the hospital and they were calling the family in. We hurried to get there,” he said.
“Even though I wasn’t living the life that God had planned for me, I prayed, ‘God, I’m having the faith in you right now to keep my grandpa.’ When we got to the hospital, he wasn’t himself, he didn’t look like himself, and I got very upset and mad. I got to spend three days with grandpa before he passed and was called home.
“I had learned a song for him, his favorite country song. He could play the mouthharp really well, and we were going to play the song together when we met again. But he passed away,” Mitchell said.
Mitchell said that he did play that song on his guitar at the funeral, which was his first performance on his guitar.
When he had been back home for about two weeks, Mitchell realized that, “God had so much more in store for me, and mine and God’s relationship got back to where it needed to be.
“I wrote my first song, ‘We Need You”,’ and it talks about how, in every situation, no matter how we are living for God or not, we still need Him in every situation, because He died for us on the cross, for all of our sins.”
Mitchell said that that kicked off his music career. He began playing in church (bass, drums and guitar). He got together with Keegan, who had been his good friend in school, and Austin, with whom he had been friends “since birth.”
• Keegan Mitchell, 17, bassist/backup vocals and the son of Brent Mitchell and Casey Wilson, said that he grew up in church and is the grandson of Rhonda Nash.
“But I strayed off a little bit a while back, then when Mitchell’s dad came to this church, I started coming to Family Worship, too. We had become really good friends in our freshman year, so we started practicing together.
“I like all of the songs, (but) I really don’t have a special connection with one of them. They all have great messages and we have all put our time in on each one.”
• Austin Lay, 18, is the drummer and the son of Aaron and Jan Lay.
He attends the Christ Tabernacle in Herrick.
Aaron is very quiet-spoken and a man of few words, but he speaks loudly for God, as he plays his drums with a passion for Him.
“Mitchell gave me a call and asked if I’d like to be in his band, and I said, “Sure.”
Now, the goal of all of them is to reach out to others spread the gospel.
Redemption 1:7 Stands for…
Mitchell Zimmerman said, “Ephesians 1:7 talks about how we have redemption through God’s grace and mercy. We didn’t just want to be (named) Ephesians 1:7, so we just picked the main word from it that the verse was talking about and added 1:7 on to it.
Mitchell said, “I was actually just reading the Bible and I came across that, and I thought, Redemption 1:7, that would be really awesome, because we just really came together a few times in practice and it really worked out.
Deciding on Songs for CD
Mitchell said, “We were going to cut the CD in Tenneesee, and we got everything laid out. We already had six original songs. We wrote all the lyrics and music, so we just went with our six original songs.
“We (Keegan and Mitchell) just came together with our two acoustic guitars. He had never sung before, and I was just starting out singing with the youth band at church,” he said.
“We thought it would be interesting to start a band, so we called Austin to see if he would be interested. It just came together and made our band to what it is now.
“We were all just wanting to do something, and now, it’s like a dream come true.
Mitchell said, “We talked with the guys and made sure that was what we wanted to do. We were looking at a few different records labels. One was in Herrin, and then we got the opportunity to go to Tennessee and do our CD.
“We did and we had a lot of fun doing it.”
The CD Cover
Keegan said, “We had seen the paper covers and we liked them. We got the trees and put everything together. It was all of us coming together.”
A large tree dominates the front cover of the CD. One side of the tree is
leafed out fully. The other half is bare branches. Half of the back of the cover shows a green field, while the other half is brown.
Mitchell explained the symbolism and how they came up with the tree.
“We started talking about it. We are a different Christian band with our unique sound.
“We didn’t want to just sound like another Christian band; we wanted to have our own sound. We wanted to go with the vintage style and we figured if we stand up, stand out, and if we had one part of the tree alive and one part dead, we would be standing up and standing out for what we believe in.
“I want to thank Renee Riker for designing the CD for us – the cover, the tree … everything on it. She worked very hard on it.”
Keegan said, “We prayed a lot and it really helped, because it got us to November 10.”
Redemption 1:7 is having a CD release show at the Vandalia Junior High School. The doors open at 5:30, and the show will begin at 6:30 p.m.