The band members of Scarlet Letter Society are not afraid to make music about Christ. And, they're not afraid to be cheeky either. Who are they? Jevon Chalwell, lead vocalist and songwriter; Jann P. Vivoni, songwriter, singer, guitar, and keyboards; Brandon Holmes, bass and backup vocals; Stephen Torres Almodovar, drums; and the newest member, Mark Denaro, guitarist. Together, they deliver solid music about the message of Christ. We recently spoke with the band members in an exclusive interview about who they are and the music they make.
Who is Scarlet Letter Society and what are you about?
We're an alternative rock and hip-hop band from Jacksonville, Florida. We're all Christian, and our faith and our convictions heavily influence our music. I guess if we had to sum up what we are about, I would say that we are about people: real people, with real issues, real lives, real struggles, and real victories. Sometimes that stuff doesn’t look like what we try to make it be in the music industry. But, people deal with real life and need a real encounter with a real God in order to make it through here.
What are some of your favorite artists and music that you listen to and why?
All of us come from different backgrounds and cultures. When it comes to music, we enjoy listening to and playing all types of different genres. To answer your question, I would say that our favorite artists and bands would be DC Talk, The Roots, Emery, Fred Hammond, Andy Mineo, Five Iron Frenzy, Sizzla, Kurt Carr, Audio Adrenaline, Bullet For My Valentine, Lauren Hill, Casting Crowns, and Bob Marley. I think you get the drift. It’s a smorgasbord.
We rarely ask this, but we have to know. What’s the name about?
It’s funny you ask. We love to answer this question. Scarlet Letter Society has two meanings. At face value, scarlet is a tone of the color red. In the bible, the red letters are the words of Christ and that is what we live by. We also have a band scripture found in Romans 3:23, "...for all have sinned and fall short of the glory of God...". You should read it when you have some time or if you have insomnia. Just kidding.
The second meaning of the name is a bit more metaphoric. It kinda derives from the book, “The Scarlet Letter” by Nathaniel Hawthorne. You know the story of the woman that committed adultery. Well, many times in scripture, you’ll see a metaphor for adultery used to describe how we treat God. Yet, he loves us even when we are unfaithful. Our message to those out there who think they are too far gone or have failed God in some way is that we all fall short and Christ came for the sick, not the ones who think that they are already well. He didn’t come and die for the pure and perfect people, but for the Scarlet Letter Society.
How do you approach your songwriting?
Songs come to us in many different ways. Sometimes, Jevon may have written some lyrics with a basic melody, and we build music around it. Sometimes, Jann may just come up with a catchy rhythm or a hook. It just depends. We all get inspired at different times and come up with what we later realize is the beginning of a new song. We all tend to write our own parts usually based on our individual genre preferences. And, somehow it just works when we put it all together. It usually sounds really bad when we first start out; but, if we hear the potential, we keep working at it. Eventually, it becomes a thing of beauty--or at least, so we think.
Why Christian music?
I don't know if we specifically set out to make Christian music. Like we didn't really get together and say, "You know what? Let's be a Christian band." I think God inspires us to write and it just so happens to be about Christian themes. If God is a big part of your life and you talk about your life, He's going to end up being included in the conversation.
What pulls you to this genre?
It's just what comes out. It’s who we are. We make Christian music. Now, I’m gonna bring this up, because I’ve noticed lately that this has been a hot topic in the Christian music scene. I don’t think that anyone in our band is ashamed of being known for making Christian music or being called a Christian artist; however, if being labeled "Christian music" is going to hinder us from reaching someone that needs this Gospel, then you can keep the label. It’s not that important. I guess the real question is, is it really a hindrance? I don’t know. It's like a catch 22. At the end of the day, we are just being real and outspoken about who we are, how we live, and the one who has made all the difference in our lives (that is, Jesus).
What are you working on right now? What’s next?
We're working on more music, videos, homes tours, and building our team. We need lots of help. Free help. Just kidding, or am I? But, we are in a growth stage, so a lot of new stuff is coming soon.
How can we be praying for you?
Pray that God would keep us grounded and focused on Him over everything else. If that is in place, everything else will fall in line.
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