.- More than 100 performers proclaimed God’s overwhelming love during the four-day SoulFest Christian music festival held on Gunstock Mountain.
A large gathering of about 13,000 guests listened to inspirational talks and enjoyed performances from national and local musical artists and some of the biggest acts in Christian music, including, Casting Crowns, Newsboys, and Third Day.
Among the various Christian denominations represented at SoulFest, the Catholic presence was significant.
Daily Mass was celebrated Thursday through Saturday at 10 a.m. with a lively music ministry guided by the talented Matt Maher, one of the most popular, critically-acclaimed Catholic musicians in the country.
With his hair buzzed short to form the shape of a cross, Tom Snow, 17, of Southington, CT, explained that he has been attending SoulFest for the past six years.
“I absolutely love it,” Snow said after Mass. “I love being able to be in a place where there are so many Christian people.”
David Simon, 24, of Saddle River, N.J, explained how wonderful it is to have daily Mass at SoulFest.
“It’s an opportunity for Catholics who left the Church to want to come home,” said Simon. “It’s such and opportunity to see the power of the Eucharist.”
Glenridge, a New England-based Catholic rock band from of Concord, N.H., comprised of five young men, expressed their passion for their faith through their music, presenting eager fans with a musical heat, burning up SoulFest. With three performances, Glenridge was the only Catholic band to ever play the main stage at SoulFest, other than Matt Maher.
“I loved that we got to play on the biggest stage there in front of nearly a thousand people and that it was the same stage that so many other huge bands have played on before,” said bassist Matt Gennetti, 18. “It’s a once-in-a-lifetime kind of thing.”
Guitarist Brad Bittman, 17, expressed that as Catholic artists, the group’s music has been well received at SoulFest.
“Everyone that has seen us has had nothing but good things to say about our music,” said Bittman. “We've gotten messages from people that we knew before and have just met at Soulfest saying how unique and epic our sound is, and how our lyrics have touched them in some way.”
The band members explained that their Catholic faith plays a central role in their music.
“It’s such a big part of who we are that it’s naturally going to be a key source for inspiration,” said pianist Ben O’Brien, 19.
Glenridge expressed that they are musically inspired by bands both Christian and secular such as Rich Mullins, Delirious, Matt Maher, U2, and Coldplay.
“We are on a search for our own unique sound as it is divinely inspired,” said lead vocalist Brian Waldron, 30.
Drummer Brandon Fitts, 20, noted that Glenridge does not discriminate between different Christian denominations, but explained that it is a privilege knowing they are a Catholic band among many Protestant performers.
“It was a cool experience being one of the only Catholic bands to play at Soulfest,” said Fitts. “We love being Catholic but know that we are one body under the love of Jesus Christ no matter what Christian church you go to on Sunday. We make sure to love everyone.”
O’Brien explained that writing and performing their own faith-based music is their vocation as Catholics.
“I think a lot of people get involved in this industry just for the money,” O’Brien said. “For us, at the end of the day, if we’ve somehow drawn people closer to God, that’s what’s important to us.”
Printed with permission from The Rhode Island Catholic.