Whether he's been a producer, touring artist, member of the acclaimed duo StompTown Revival or church-based worship leader, Brandon Bee has been on mission. As a "musicianary," he's traveled all over the world, not just performing for outreaches, but working with local worship leaders and songwriters.
Whether he was working with Christian artists Stacie Orrico, Jamie Jamgochian, Lanae Hale, and Circleslide or local congregations in Europe, the Pacific Northwest or elsewhere, Bee has sought to activate the musicians around him to change the world for Jesus.
With Songs From The Sky, his latest (and first-ever worship) project, Bee unpacks his vertical response to a season of life full of change. While he's made his life's work activating others, this album reflects how in the midst of uncertainty, God activated Bee to a new season of local and global missions.
I asked Bee about his most recent season, why he held onto the new EP for so long, and what is on the horizon.
What are you up to these days? You're on staff at a church, and you're still pretty involved in producing. Tell us what you're doing!
Yes, I'm on staff at a great church in the eastern part of Washington State called Calvary Chapel Tri-Cities. It is a very supportive church of all the other ministries that I have been doing throughout the years. I still produce records pretty often. I focus my time on projects that I know will expand the kingdom of God. Also, I still tour and minister through song and speaking all over the world.
You've had a wild ride the past few years. Give us a brief synopsis of what you and your family have been through.
The past five years have been a crazy journey for me and my family, my wife and 7 kids. I have always a been missional thinking and flexible person, but I never thought it would turn into relocating to two countries, three states and five cities. It's been a combo of church planting, worship pastoring, and running record labels. The last place we were before we moved to the Tri-Cities was Milan, Italy.
Do you still have connection/intentionality with regard to the worship movement in Italy? What does that look like? What are you sensing for the future?
I am still very involved in the ministries overseas. I am actually currently doing a tour in Germany and The Netherlands. I help run a worship record label in Italy called Activate Music. Also, I put on two major young adult conferences a year where 300 to 500 young adults gather together two times a year to focus on worship, songwriting, and generally being activated into ministry.
"Activating" really has been my motto as of the last few years. I believe that the Lord wants me to activate many more people from all over the world into a radical life of ministry. There may even be a U.S.-based but international worship record label ministry arising soon with the desire to find great artists from all over the world to equip and minister to the local churches.
Songs From the Sky was written out of deep loss, particularly the loss of all your data for another album. Talk about that for a second.
It's funny to say that the loss of "data" is a deep loss, but it really is true. As a husband, parent, producer, traveling minister, and local pastor, there is rarely time to work on my own music. I had spent two years recording whenever I could find time and when I had moved to Italy I was going to spend the first month or so to finish the album. I wanted to finish it mostly for myself, which meant it meant a lot to me. Just a few weeks in we had an electrical storm and it destroyed my working and backup hard drives. I didn't just lose my stuff, but also the files from a couple of other artists I was working on, particularly Italian projects, which was the reason I was there. It hit me pretty hard. The songs on the EP now are a response to the turmoil and sense of failure and loss I had. Plus, my son was having seizures we couldn't get under control so we had to move back from Italy. That was really tough on me.
This is your first worship-oriented release. What led to this change of focus?
I have always focused on worship throughout the years at church. Hearing churches and believers from all over the world is a powerful experience--actually, the most powerful you can experience in modern contexts. It seems to be where the Spirit is really moving nowadays. He moves and works in all things of course but there is a freedom that is being expressed right now, as nations are awakening to a modern movement of worship. It's remarkable. Being a Christian songwriter, it's my duty and calling to be a part of what is happening. I believe God has always wanted the arts to be used in that way. We have seen it in the past with Martin Luther and in the Jesus People movement as well. Super cool.
Which of the songs was the most difficult to write and/or share?
The song "I Celebrate the Lord" has a tough story behind it. My pastor at the time had lost a baby and the church were all mourning with his family. It was a tough time for all of us and God gave me the words to this song to sing for the funeral. It became a song we sang often at church. I always knew it was tough for my pastor and his wife but they always thanked me that I played it in church. It almost drew them to a deeper trust in God's plan. Songs like that are the turning point for churches. It's why it's so important to write local songs.
You had the completed the record for the better part of two years before releasing it. How did you know it was finally time?
Putting down my artist career when deciding to move to Italy was a hard decision. In a way it was the only thing I knew since I was a kid. When Italy was cut short I had to face the challenge of do I get back into the music business, and if so, how? My heart had really changed towards worship and so I finished this EP. It is a very full-sounding record, and without a band I felt like releasing this wouldn't be easy. Also, I struggled with a sense of knowing that I am starting from the beginning. It was a hard enough road to begin with so starting over seemed to be a struggle whether it was worth it or not. My church really pushed me to release it. I'm thankful they did. It is now a weight off my shoulders!
How has your approach to music--and worship?--changed in the midst of this record (and the life that you've lived around it)?
Writing songs in other languages and seeing what it does for them has really made me value what we have. The freedom to write songs to our God even at the local church level. So I am now really encouraging my worship leaders to write songs for our church.
What's next for you, and how can people be praying?
I have a few projects coming next. My church is doing a live CD, launching a worship conference and also starting a worship and evangelism training course. Really stoked about that. It's under the name Activate Worship. Also, I'm recording another record for Activate Music Italy too. Fun stuff.
Marcus Hathcock is the Executive Editor of NewReleaseToday.com, a husband to Savannah, father of three and a worship leader living in Boise. He has released an EP, Songs For Tomorrow, and occasionally blogs at mheternal.com.
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