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RAZE - Raze-ing The Standard

  • 2000 1 Feb
RAZE - Raze-ing The Standard

"Jesus, I want to know You. I want You to make Yourself real to me. I want to invite You into my life to be my friend and my Savior. I admit that I've done wrong and I'm sorry. Please forgive me. Jesus, thanks for dying for me. Amen."

Rip off the cellophane of ==Power==, the debut project from ForeFront's electronic dance band, {{Raze}}, pop out the CD, and on the inside back cover you'll find those words next to a kneeling Ja'Marc. If you took a look at the album cover and found yourself questioning the motives of the band, perhaps your question has just been answered.

"I think more than anything else, we want to express the goodness of God," explains Jd, the band's newest member. "When people come to a Raze show, they should expect an interactive experience. They should expect to see a lot of energy on stage, and they should expect to dance. But it is not just about jumping around and dancing and having a good time. It is also a time to get to know God and to experience His goodness and love."

Mizzie, who along with Ja'Marc co-founded the band, concurs. "It really is about joy and love," she says. "I always pray before we go out on stage that people would see Jesus. That they would see past what I am, and they will just see Jesus and His love for them."

Donnie emphasizes God's forgiveness and acceptance. "No matter what you've done in your life, or how far away you feel from God, He is still there, and He still cares", she insists. And she should know, having experienced the rejection and heartbreak that comes from single parenthood. "In my personal life, I've been reading about forgiveness, and I'm learning how to truly forgive and to let some things go that I couldn't let go of before."

"I would pray that there would be an understanding of who God really is," Ja'Marc sums up succinctly.

But even with all those wonderful intentions, it can be a bit of a challenge to get people past their first impressions. And the first impression most people have is the CD cover, which some might consider to be just a tad flamboyant.

Jd laughs as if it is just another day at the beach. "A lot of people look at us and say, 'Wow! They are so extreme. They look so weird.' But just because you look a certain way, or dress a certain way, doesn't mean that you are a certain way. Being artists and enjoying different forms of art and expressionism, one way that we express ourselves is in the way that we dress. But that doesn't reflect our personalities. We just feel so normal. If you talk to me, you'll realize, 'Hey, he is a lot like me. His heart is a lot like mine.'"

Still, Jd insists their appearance is not all hype, either. They way they look on the album cover, and the way they look in concert, is very close to how they would look if you met them on the street. But he hopes people will not pre-judge Raze based on their appearance. "You may look at someone and think they are so conservative, and when you talk to them you find out they are the most flamboyant people you have ever met," he says. "You could look at us and say, 'Wow, they look so weird.' But it is just the way we express ourselves. It is who we are. And more than anything we want our fans to realize that it is cool to be who your are. It is cool to be different."

It is a message that is echoed in, "UBU," a song on ==Power== that encourages teens to fight peer pressure and learn to respect themselves. "We want all people to understand that they are unique individuals created by God for a specific purpose," Ja'Marc explains. "Raze conveys this message through our music. It is vital for us to communicate to teenagers within their comfort zone, to tell them there is hope for a bright future."

Ja'Marc credits his two years touring as a dancer on {{Carman}}'s ==Raise the Standard== tour with exposing him to ministry for the masses. It was during that time that he began to get a vision for a ministry that could get into schools and impact kids for Christ. He believes God gave him the master plan for Raze.

Excited to share his idea with like-minded believers, Ja'Marc contacted Mizzie, a friend since junior high school. Mizzie jumped at the chance to be part of the unique dance/pop/vocal band. A trained dancer, Mizzie had just returned to Tulsa, Oklahoma from a six-month stint dancing aboard a cruise ship in Japan.

"I enjoyed that job", she says. "But the whole time I was there I was praying that God would allow me to use my talent for His work in spreading the Gospel. So when Ja'Marc shared the Raze mission with me, I was so excited. And ever since I have felt like I was in the right place, doing what God wants me to do."

"I am a dancer/singer", Mizzie continues. "That's what I am: dancer first; singer second. To a lot of people that is a radical concept. For some, the concept of dance is very uncomfortable. And I don't try to change their minds, because people are going to think what they want to think. It is their opinion, and they are allowed to have it. But I didn't grow up in the church. For me, dancing is what I do. And I know that it is what God has called me to do. I'm secure in that."

Jd concurs. "There is nothing wrong with celebrating the goodness of God", he insists. "This is our form of worship. I hope everyone walks away from one of shows entertained. I want them to say, 'Wow that was a good show.' But I don't want anyone to walk away JUST feeling entertained. I want them to say, 'What he said really touched my life.'"

With a heart for ministry, and a penchant for crafting exuberant, radio-ready dance/pop songs, {{Raze}} is already impacting the culture. Their sweet, catchy "Always and Forever" seems destined to replace {{Michael W. Smith}}'s "Friends" as the high school reunion anthem of choice. But the song that best sums up this phenomenal quartet is "Place In My Heart," a song to which they all contributed.

"It really shows our heart", Jd explains. "It says you can search for love in relationships, and you can search for love in material things. But no matter how far you go, or what you do, there is still going to be a place in your heart that is missing - that only Jesus can fill."