Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • Published Jun 11, 1999
by Mike Nappa for the Music Channel at

Charles Joseph {{Montrel Darrett}} stared hard at the razor in his hands. It was May, 1994. In front of him sat the makings of a guitar. Working an hourly-wage manufacturing job for a large company that made guitars only reminded Montrel of the disappointment his life had been thus far.

He sighed and reached forward with the razor to curves the edges on the guitar in preparation for sanding it down. Man, I ain't supposed to be doing this stuff, he thought to himself. He'd had much bigger plans for his life.

In high school he'd hoped for a career as a pro football player, and had been offered a scholarship to play ball for a university in Nebraska. Then his girlfriend became pregnant, and wanting to be responsible for his new child - at least financially - Montrel joined the Navy and sent home part of his pay for child support.

At first, young Montrel partied away his time in the service. Then, late in 1990, a shipmate introduced him to Jesus Christ, and a new life began. A few months later he was clinging to Jesus tightly as he headed into battle in the Persian Gulf War.

"We had services on the ship every day," Montrel recalls, "at all times, just to take our minds off the danger we were in." In spite of the tense circumstances, Montrel could feel the danger driving him closer to God. "Lord, if I die in this thing, I really want to be right with you," was his constant prayer.

When the war ended, Montrel decided to use his God-given musical talent to preach and tell others about the God he had come to know during the war. He was ordained as a minister and set to work. He also married a Christian woman and tried to settle down. But life sometimes doesn't work out as planned.

In his early twenties and already a war veteran, Montrel now began fighting a personal war. He felt frustration at every turn. His music career was going nowhere. He separated from his wife. He was broke, and became homeless. In his heart he desperately wanted to serve God, but his life circumstances made Montrel feel that God didn't want him.

Needing to get his life back together, he reconciled with his wife and took a job at Gibson Guitar. And that was where he found himself that day in early May of 1994, sanding guitars in a mindless job. Headed for nowhere. Fast.

His eyes caught the glint of the razor in his hand, causing him to pause and stare once more. "How did I end up here?" he asked himself. He turned the razor in his fingers, feeling the cold steel on his flesh.

Suddenly the thoughts rushed at him like a flood. Evil lies that echoed straight from hell rang into Montrel's mind. "Look at you!" the enemy said. "You ain't never going to be nothing. God doesn't love you. Who's going to love you? He ain't thinking about you."

Montrel describes what happened next, "It just seemed like my mind left, and I took the razor and just sliced my vein in the back of my legAnd I just sat there and just tried to let it bleed, tried to die. I really felt like I wanted to die."

But sometimes - thankfully - life doesn't turn out as planned. Sometimes God has something better in mind. That was the case with Montrel Darrett.

Co-workers rushed to Montrel's aid, bandaging up his wound and rushing him to the hospital. Embarrassed, Montrel claimed he'd cut his leg by accident, but he - and God - knew better.

Following that suicide attempt, the young man grew bitter, angry at God and everybody else. When his wife suggested they go to a revival service that featured Dr. Mark Schorona, Montrel almost laughed in her face. He had no time for God and he made that clear, saying plainly, "You know what? I don't care to go see no Mark Schorona."

But his wife was persistent, and finally Montrel relented. Four nights later Montrel had had enough. Sitting in the revival service, he angrily prayed. "Lord, you ain't got no Word for me," he said. "You ain't saying nothing to me and I'm through with my life. I don't care no more."

Abruptly, Montrel stood and headed for the exit, intent on killing himself. Suddenly, Dr. Schorona yelled out from the pulpit, "There's a guy here with the initials M. D. and I don't know your name. I think it's Mon-something. I don't know who you are but I know you're here cause God told me that you're here and you are really depressed. God has something for your life, but you're about to kill yourself!"

Montrel heard the words, but just kept walking. Before he could reach the doors, a family friend confronted him in the aisle. She said, "Montrel, you know that's you! I know you're going through a hard time, but you really need to hear the voice of God." She urged him to turn around and turn back toward God.

But Montrel kept walking. Dr. Schorona shouted out his initials again and again, calling for M.D. to step forward. People all over the congregation were turning to see where Montrel was and what he was doing. They all knew it was him.

But Montrel kept walking. Finally, for the fourth time, Dr. Schorona called out. He said "Now, this is my last time calling. I don't know who you are but I know you're here!"

Something in the man's voice, something in the urgency of the situation made Montrel hesitate. At last he prayed quietly, "Well, Lord, if this is You I'm just going to give it a chance. But you know I'm mad. I really don't want to go up there."

Slowly he turned and headed toward the front of the auditorium. There he met Dr. Schorona, and heard specific encouragement about his life and career - even though he and Dr. Schorona had never met before. And in the words of the preacher, Montrel heard the words of God, felt His spirit filling him with strength to carry on. At the altar there, the young man felt anew God's love for him, and renewed his commitment to serve Jesus - no matter what.

Funny how things turn out in life. Two short weeks later, Montrel was invited to sing back up for Christian music legend, {{Andrae Crouch}}, on {{Bobby Jones}}' television show. Gospel great, {{John P. Kee}} heard Montrel on that show and soon after signed him to a music contract to perform with his choir and special ensembles.

When his time was up with Reverend Kee, Montrel landed a job as the lead singer for R&B/Gospel heavyweight, {{Commissioned}}. Three successful years later - in 1999 - Montrel struck out on his own, releasing a critically acclaimed, funk-filled, cutting-edge-soul debut album titled ==Chronicles of the Soul==.

Yet, in spite of his recent success, Montrel knows how close he came to throwing away God's blessings in his life. Commenting on what would've happened if he had actually left Dr. Schorona's revival service, he says:

"I would have missed" his voice trails off. Then he shrugs, "Well, I just would have missed all of this. You know what I'm saying?"

And we would have missed out on it too.