Christian Music - Reviews, News, Interviews


  • Published Mar 03, 1999
"We will always be involved with students and schools, and for that matter, whatever it takes to reach people. If it's effective in leading someone to Christ, then we're in!"

If it weren't for the bond they share in their desire to share the hope of Jesus with every kid in the world through pulsating pop music, Ja'Marc, Mizzie, J.d., and Donnie may never have even crossed paths. Indeed, it was a very long and winding road that brought this cultural kaleidoscope of young people (all in their early 20s) to the point where they became RAZE and are now releasing That's The Way on ForeFront Records.

If you want a long story short, you could say RAZE formed in Tulsa, Oklahoma, played a couple of U.S. music festivals, made friends with esteemed British rhythmic producer Zarc Porter, unintentionally landed a whirlwind European record deal as a result of that connection, found great radio and touring success in the UK, and in quick retrospect, decided to bring the whole operation back over to America where they had true roots. But there's a lot more to it than that.

Born in Detroit, Ja'Marc (Davis) grew up in urban circles and eventually moved with his family to Tulsa where his father now serves as a church music minister. Under that influence, Ja'Marc naturally developed a love for powerful music and worked his love for dancing into the mix. He's probably the only person alive who would put {{dc Talk}}, Michael Jackson, and Fred Astaire into the same list of artistically inspiring artists. The most outspoken member of the RAZE craze, Ja'Marc puts rapping, singing, and preaching into one incomparable package of friendly energy, and it aptly complements the attributes of Mizzie, Donnie, and J.d.

Mizzie (Melissa Logan) was born in Tulsa where she met Ja'Marc in a 7th grade school class. With her keen sense of style, understanding of youth, and voice of gold, she joined Ja'Marc to form the core of RAZE and began sharing the Gospel in any public high school that would allow their presence, music, and message. Today, she is not only bold in fashion but also in function. "Trust in Jesus and get things accomplished!" she says.

Donnie (Donella Lewis) also grew up in Tulsa and found inspiration in the music of classic soul artists. With a set of pipes that sounds like it can go anywhere and do anything, Donnie provides the voice of distinction in RAZE. On stage and off, she acknowledges her misguided teenage years that led her to become a single mother of one son. Today, she stands strong on the precious gift of grace, citing Psalm 27:1 as her words to live by; 'The Lord is my light and my salvation. Whom shall I fear?' Donnie shares a healthy message with a generation haunted by tough decisions: "Don't let your past hold you back."

J.d. ("just 'J.d.,'" he says) has made the longest trip into RAZE land. Raised on the north shore of Hawaii where he lived with his missionary parents and grandparents, J.d. traded his tropical mission field for the less exquisite high school meeting halls his group fills throughout the United States in order to share God's word with an unchurched majority. Also the newest member in the group, J.d. adds his instinctive capacity for youth outreach and the male counterpoint voice to Donnie's vocal gymnastics.

Together, the members of RAZE agree on their over-riding purpose:

Unencumbered ministry and outreach to the unchurched world at large, especially among youth.

"That's the reason RAZE exists," says Donnie. "We will always be involved with students and schools, and for that matter, whatever it takes to reach people. If it's effective in leading someone to Christ, then we're in!"

So the mission is clear, but what about the music that has everybody talking so much? That's The Way EP starts the RAZE invasion off in short order, offering five radio-ready tracks and three liberating remixes on CD. Built around four-on-the-floor time measures, R&B instrumentation, soaring melodies, and electronic Euro-ornamentation, That's The Way draws a listener in completely from head to heart to foot.

And RAZE welcomes other artists to follow suit, in style and substance.

"We have a definite image, but labels don't really bother us," says Ja'Marc. "As long as they don't limit us from reaching people with Christ's love, let people call us whatever they want. And as for school ministry, we pray that other artists would be inspired to do the same. We don't want to be on our own. Everyday we pray for more laborers to be sent into the harvest with us. RAZE is not enough. One church or organization is not enough. We need each other. We all have a role to play in God's family."

So check out RAZE, and they just might help you find a place to belong.