Beyond the Song by Jantina de Haan-Baksteen
Through a Facebook livestream I got to learn about the group Pardoned. It was the catchy sound that drew my attention. I got in contact with Rusty Rowan of the group for this edition of the Beyond The Song, to talk about “Down At The Altar.”
Jantina de Haan-Baksteen: Can you introduce the group members to the readers of SGNScoops?
Rusty Rowan: Pardoned is made up of Donnie Marr, Parker Rains, and Rusty Rowan. All three of us live in the Sand Mountain area of Alabama. Our families have been lifelong friends dating all the way back to our grandparents.
JB: How did the group come together?
RR: We were formed after recording a demo for one of Rusty’s songs, “When My Eyes See.” The producer of that recording suggested we send the song to radio to see if they would play it. That song charted on several internet and radio charts. From there we just kept on singing and trying to grow the music. Our first year has been amazing in a lot of ways and we are having a ball.
JB: What’s the story behind the group’s name?
RR: The name comes from our realization that God doesn’t just forgive us. He actually forgets the mistakes we have made. Forgiveness is great, but if the memory of that mistake remains, then thoughts of failure are always in your mind. When God forgives, he forgets… YOU BECOME PARDONED!
JB: Do you all come from a singing background?
RR: Yes. We were all raised in the church and around gospel music. We have all performed with various groups in gospel and country music. We have tried to take something educational from almost every artist we have known and worked with. We believe that we are a combination of a lot of other peoples’ talent and influence.
JB: Who are your musical influences?
RR: Wow. There are so many. It’s safe to say that we love harmony. The Gatlin Brothers, Diamond Rio, The Oaks, The Gaithers. Basically, if an artist has good harmony, we consider them an influence on what we do.
JB: You’ve launched your first EP, “Stirred Not Shaken” with six songs. Rusty, you wrote all of the songs?
RR: Yes, I was blessed to have these songs on the CD. Honestly, nobody else wanted to record them, so the guys got stuck with my stuff! Seriously, having people sing, listen to, and enjoy a song that God allowed me to craft, has been a huge blessing for me.
JB: Why is this EP called “Stirred Not Shaken?”
RR: We thought the name would catch the attention of lost people, maybe cause someone from outside of the traditional church to spend an extra minute looking at the cover and song titles. From there, we hope they will listen to the music and be drawn to Christ. For us, it wasn’t so much a title of our testimony, as it was a way to (hopefully) cause people to be curious about the message in the songs.
JB: The first song that’s released to radio is “Down At The Altar.” It’s a catchy song! What’s the message?
RR: The message of “Down At The Altar” is a reflection of how important that piece of furniture is in the history of the church, its people, and society as a whole. The altar has always been a place where people could bring their problems and find relief. Where friends and strangers alike could find, and do find, a common ground of sorts. The altar symbolizes the original safe place in every community and town across American and the world. The altar was important enough to be the first thing a scientist/traveler erected when they reached their destination. It was a necessity then and remains an even greater necessity today.
JB: What is the mission that sets you apart from other groups?
RR: Hopefully there is no difference in the mission of any artist who presents gospel music. Whether you represent Christian country, Black gospel, Contemporary, or Southern gospel, the mission should be the same: to lead Christians into worship and to lead lost people to Christ. While our methods may be different, our mission to reach the world for Christ must remain the same. That’s our mission: to help lead people to Christ.
JB: I heard there’s a new project in the making; can you share something about that?
RR: Yes. We have finished the tracks and are working on the vocals when we are home. The sound will be even more country than our debut release, but the message of the gospel is front and center in each cut. That’s never going to change. I can’t share much at this point, but we are very excited for people to hear our sophomore recording.
JB: What’s your favorite Bible verse?
RR: Daniel 6:22, where Daniel declares to the king that regardless of the king’s efforts to have him destroyed… God shut the lions’ mouth so that no harm could come to him!
Thanks Rusty Rowan for sharing your ministry to the readers. Blessings on your journey sharing the gospel with your talent.
Please watch and listen to this great new song, “Down At The Altar,” by Pardoned.
For more Gospel music features read the latest SGNScoops Magazine HERE.