As Bethel Music introduces their new brand for kids with the debut album, Come Alive, they invite the next generation to experience worship and live in wonder of God. With reimagined songs meant to get kids dancing and praising in every hour of the day, the high-energy worship is ready to kindle fire in a whole new audience.
While the idea of a Bethel brand directed for kids has been simmering for several years, it truly emerged on the foundation of worship already present in the community. Kiley Goodpasture, Creative Director, explained that the children are being raised in an environment where they understand God's presence and they understand how to celebrate with each other in a pure and profound way. When Bethel began to consider making this dream a reality, they did not have to manufacture something; they simply captured what was already happening in the worlds of these kids. With stories, props, lighting, colors, and all the lively surprises woven through the songs, Bethel celebrates the idea that when something is authentic, it is naturally moving.
The performers themselves -- singers and dancers -- made the project a success. Bethel Music is a branch of Bethel Church, and all of the kids that participated were friends from the local church. Bethel hosted two different audition days for the dancers and ended up with thirty-three kids whose friendships grew through the worship and recording of this project.
Their comradery remains one of Album's and Artist Director Eric Allen's favorite moments of production: "Observing a culture of honor, of brave communication, of respect and love, and seeing the kids champion each other was an amazing display of friendship -- that was the highlight."
The glimpses of friendship are best captured in the first video shot. An opportunity to film in the Redwoods weeks ahead of schedule surprised the team. With a flurry of logistics, suddenly, they were filming in one of the world's greatest stages. For the first time, the dream came to life. As the kids waved flags, the team realized they had reached the point where the vision for kid's worship had morphed into something beyond them. Seeing the children connect and break into other songs between takes, Goodpasture realized they were overflowing with passion.
The friendship and the message were contagious. On another day of filming, Bethel had hired a drone operator, and after his allotted time had come to an end, they noticed he still hovered around the shoot, watching. When Bethel asked him why, explaining that they were not able to pay him overtime, he responded with a request to continue watching because he was so impacted by the kids. He stayed for two consecutive days. That weekend, he visited Bethel church, encountered God, and gave his life to the Lord.
This story captures the essence of the project. The hope behind the song and dance is that the family's idea of worship will be expanded. Bethel hopes to connect to the heart of a normal kid while bringing stories with vitality and vibrancy to the home. Therefore, the video progresses through a day in the life of a kid.
Songs were selected with messages that would feel authentic in a child's voice and serve as an anthem for any hour in a child's day. After applying research and instinct, classic Bethel songs were given a dancy, electropop feel with lyrics simple enough for a child to understand but profound enough to minister to the heart.
Fred Vassallo, who moved from New York with his wife several years ago, teaches dance and hip-hop classes at Bethel Christian School. With his choreographed hip-hop already in place in the lives of Bethel kids, the translation to music videos created a pathway to even greater opportunities. Bethel plans to launch dance tutorials on their website. Along with dance videos, Bethel also plans to release videos of the original worship leaders connecting with the children who sing their songs on Come Alive. Celebrating the connection, they are making a deposit into the next generation and sharing it with the world.
This is not a simple album release; it is the launch of brand that is steeped in hopes and dreams. Plans are already in place for future work, including the possibility that the next album could include original songs. For Bethel Music, this project was the first of its kind -- an experiment that involved faith, risk, and, of course, fun.
These characteristics of risk and fun were experienced in the filming of the 'Ever Be' video featured on Come Alive. The kids were sent off on homemade rafts and canoes, and once they were out on the water, the production team lost much of their ability to direct them. Only one or two of the kids knew how to actually paddle. The moment was captured successfully, and the laughter of those still on the shore personified this memory-in-the-making. The kids eventually returned to the dock,and the video ends with a family campfire scene. A project of this magnitude requires hope, trust, and a little bit of paddling unaware into the distance. But when a group of kids and their leaders step out in faith, laughter, zeal, and beauty overflow.
This project is more than just a way for families to connect over something pure, more than a series of professionally choreographed dances, and it is even more than friendships growing stronger. In the creative depiction of children praising their Father; it is a glimpse of eternity.