Arts and Entertainment

Rock and roll of ages

Isaac Harris holds a free concert of praise and worship music. - ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo
Isaac Harris holds a free concert of praise and worship music.
— image credit: ROGERICK ANAS/Staff Photo

Isaac Harris takes seriously the Biblical injunction to “make a joyful noise unto the Lord.”

Harris, who gives a free concert Sunday, combines musical skill on the acoustic guitar with a spiritual bent to merge performance with praise and worship.

“The purpose of my concerts is to have fun,” Harris said. “Sing some songs that are fun – and praise the Lord.”

A third-generation islander, Harris graduated from Bainbridge High School in 1994 and spent a year studying theology at Life Bible College in San Dimas, Calif. Harris soon found that playing concerts at area churches was as compelling as his theological studies.

He began attending a large gospel church in Los Angeles, where he “soaked up every ounce of groove and soul.”

But the college didn’t offer music studies, so Harris left.

He and his wife, Lynn Harris, moved to be near her family in Canon City, Colo.

“Her folks were there, pioneering a church,” Harris said, “and we came to do the music.”

Although Harris notes that the small town didn’t provide a big pool of musically talented church-goers, he enjoyed his job at Church-on-the-Rock Freedom Center, where he led both praise and worship services with contemporary Christian music written by himself and others.

“What we focused on was the direct relationship one could have with God,” Harris said. “You could call it a ministry – to present music in a way that people see that there is a God and that He isn’t the God of institutional religion.”

Helping church-goers pray through music every week expanded Harris’ musical vocabulary and deepened his understanding of the spiritual root of his art, he says.

Based in the folk and rock-and-roll idioms, Harris’ songs can be divided into two distinct musical categories, he says. Praise songs are fast and loud expressions of joy, Harris says, that “give God the glory,” while worship songs are more contemplative to focus on quiet prayer.

Harris says he has seen both make “amazing differences in people’s lives.”

And, Harris notes that he has also changed, shifting his definition of success from money-making to service.

“I want my music to be the avenue by which the message can reach people,” Harris said. “I want it to make a difference in the hearts of people.”

Harris has turned down offers to perform with groups who don’t share his vision, he says.

“I know where I’m going,” Harris said. “I just have to tell myself every day I can’t compromise what I believe for the pressure of making it just simply a business.”

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Isaac Harris performs songs of praise and worship in a free concert 7 p.m. June 30 at the Warehouse on West Day Road, on four driveways past Miller Road, on the left (watch for signs). The concert is sponsored by Bainbridge Bible Chapel, a small, non-denominational Christian group worshipping weekly at the Playhouse. Information: 842-2835.

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