This concert presented by the Debra Bonner Unity Gospel Choir will be unlike any Christmas show you have experienced! Just look at the amazing lineup and consider the reason for this grand celebration! SPARK is thrilled to be part of the pre-show starting at 6:30 pm and we invite you to get your tickets now so you don't miss out! The show is at the UVU/UCCU Center on November 30th! #LIGHTtheWORLD
As part of an upcoming SPARK video, each member was asked to tell their story about their involvement in music and in the group. To give an example, our managing director, Sherri Whitehead, told her story and explained how SPARK got started. Since her story won't be part of the video, we thought we'd share it here. (Pssst! Be watching for the video this coming week.)
THE START OF SPARK
"I’m a dreamer and a planner. I have big ideas and I like to make big things happen through creative entrepreneurial ventures. At a young age, I started creating performing groups for youth. My passion for producing shows has continually expanded because I love the excitement and joy that singing and dancing brings to audiences. (For me in particular, the Spirit really speaks through uplifting music.)
Starting an inspirational performing group was something I always knew I would do, but I didn't know how it would start. When the time was right, and with the help of a great mentor, McKay Crockett, (and a lot of support from my husband Doug), SPARK came into existence last September. Singers with strong testimonies of Christ were drawn to the group and they began performing together with the goal of creating a movement for all ages to “rise up in faith and be a light to the world.” When we came up with the group name, we didn’t even realize all the ways that the name SPARK would actually define the work we are doing. Managing SPARK and producing the videos and shows has been very rewarding. I love that the music and the messages personally affect the members of the group as much as they affect their audiences.
As I said, I love making big things happen, and the big thing I want to see happen through SPARK is for many people to find Christ, or if they have already found Him, to grow closer to Him. I know that a life in Christ brings peace and security and changes hearts. It’s changed mine. I think He’s happy about what we are trying to accomplish through SPARK."
You can read Sherri's bio at this link: http://www.sparksingers.com/the-team.html
Below is a video clip taken during the filming of the video that shows the excitement of the group members.
JOIN SPARK ON NOVEMBER 9TH FOR OUR SHOW WITH NIK DAY STUDIOS!
“You … are vibrant and enthusiastic beacons in an ever-darkening world as you show, through the way you live your lives, that the gospel is a joyful message.” -Harriet Uchdorf
BEHIND THE SCENES OF "BRIGHTER"
Recently, two members of SPARK, Angelina Whitehead and Ryan Johnson, were in New York City and filmed a music video to an upbeat praise song called "Brighter." The backdrop for much of the video is Times Square, where hundreds of LED signs make the night appear nearly as bright as day. Even with all the lights on Times Square, the song attests that Jesus shines brighter and that his love helps us overcome the darkness in our lives.
While filming, many spectators stopped to watch and marvel while Angelina and Ryan displayed their talents (with "Brighter" playing on a portable speaker) in Times Square and beyond. In one particular Brooklyn neighborhood, a very positive conversation took place with an Italian restaurant host on the subject of the gospel of Jesus Christ. He graciously agreed to appear briefly in the video and gave his email address so he could receive the video link. That small connection served to prove that there are opportunities all around to share light, and you never know the extent of the good that can come of it.
Along with Ryan, Angelina was accompanied to NYC by her parents and joined by former SPARK member, Nick Sales, who professionally filmed the video. Brandon Harms, a musician friend, also came along to offer cheerful support through outbursts of singing, subway navigation and help in packing around heavy camera equipment.
This trip to NYC is just one of many opportunities that SPARK members will have to sing upbeat praises to Jesus Christ and spread his light and love through their talents. Be sure to come to our upcoming shows to experience the joyful message of the gospel of Jesus Christ!
Using the words of Neill F. Marriott from the 2014 General Conference, in her address about "Sharing Your Light," we collectively testify that we have a living Savior, Jesus Christ, and with His power and light we will be enabled to push back the darkness of the world, give voice to the truth we know, and influence others to come unto Him.
UPCOMING SPARK PERFORMANCES
MORE ABOUT SHARING YOUR LIGHT
The following are excerpts from the talk "Sharing Your Light" by Neill F. Marriott:
President Thomas S. Monson pointed out, “If you want to give a light to others, you have to glow yourself.”
The scriptures teach, “That which is of God is light; and he that receiveth light, and continueth in God, receiveth more light.”
We must continue in God, as the scripture says. We must go to the source of light—to Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ and the scriptures.
We can also go to the temple, knowing that all things within its walls point to Christ and His great atoning sacrifice.
I testify we have a living Savior, Jesus Christ, and with His power and light we will be enabled to push back the darkness of the world, give voice to the truth we know, and influence others to come unto Him.
We are excited to announce our new SPARK members very soon, but today, the "tie-in" with this photo is of a spiritual nature.
WALKING TO THE EDGE OF THE LIGHT
Considering the great turmoil in our world all around us and certainly the personal struggles we all encounter, Elder Jeffrey R. Holland of the Quorum of the Twelve Apostles has stated, “It is the plain and very sobering truth that before [and after] great moments, certainly … great spiritual moments, there can come adversity, opposition, and darkness”
But opposition doesn’t mean that Heavenly Father has abandoned you. He is there, and He will guide you. Sometimes we must move forward in faith until our way is illuminated.
Click the link below for some insights from modern prophets:
Check out this video to see if you recognize the 3 new faces in our group. Announcement coming soon!
A BIG WELCOME TO NOELLE BYBEE
We are excited to announce our newest member, Noelle Bybee, who brings to SPARK an abundance of talent and experience. As a young teen, she won 1st place in the Vocal Sport Competition and subsequently was invited to participate in several music projects for the LDS church. In 2015 she was featured on season 8 of NBC's The Voice, and her crowning accomplishment to date has been serving an LDS mission, from which she recently returned.
Check out the links below and stay tuned for some great SPARK music featuring this powerhouse vocalist!
NOELLE WAS THE SOLOIST FOR THE 2016 MUTUAL THEME
CLICK TO CHECK OUT THIS NEW ERA ARTICLE FEATURING NOELLE
NOELLE WAS FEATURED IN THE 2014 MUTUAL THEME VIDEO
NOELLE'S STUDIO RECORDING FROM THE VOICE
BECOME A LIGHT...
“Our opportunities to shine are limitless. They surround us each day, in whatever circumstance we find ourselves.”
In moving forward with our quest to encourage young and old to rise up in faith and be a light to the world, we want to share this related message from President Thomas S. Monson, given during a devotional at Brigham Young University.
Of the 50 definitions that the dictionary offers on “light,” President Monson said that his favorite definition is “something that illuminates.”
Speaking of the Savior and His Atonement, President Monson said that although members of the Church come from various backgrounds, “we have in common the gospel of Jesus Christ. … It is our responsibility to share the truth with others. … Ours is the responsibility to keep our lights bright for others to see and follow.”
But first, in order to become an example of the believers, President Monson said, we ourselves must believe.
GAIN A PERSONAL TESTIMONY
Among the most effective ways to gain and keep the faith, President Monson said, is to read and study the scriptures and to pray consistently.
“Have you read the Book of Mormon? Have you put to the test the promise found in Moroni 10:4? Have you asked if the book is true?” President Monson said.
“Set aside time every day to find out for yourselves if the Book of Mormon is a true book, for it will change your heart and change your life,” President Monson said. “I promise that you will receive an answer.”
BECOME A BEACON OF RIGHTEOUSNESS
“As we follow the example of the Savior, ours will be the opportunity to be a light to all we meet,” President Monson said.
Speaking of those who reflect the light of righteousness, President Monson said that the special spirit felt around such people makes others want to associate with them and follow their example. “When we encounter them, they are a powerful influence, for they radiate the love of the Savior and help us feel His love for us.”
“You will become a beacon of righteousness, even a light for all to see. Said the Savior, ‘Let your light so shine before men, that they may see your good works and glorify your Father in Heaven,’ ” President Monson said.
REMEMBER WHO YOU ARE
Referencing an exchange between Simba and his departed father, Mufasa, from Disney’s movie, “The Lion King,” President Monson said, “Look inside yourself. You are more than what you have become. Remember who you are.”
He continued by saying, “You are a son or daughter of our Heavenly Father. You came from His presence to live on this earth for a season, and to live in such a way that you are an example of the believers and a true light to the world.”
“Just think of how much good can come to the world through our collective lights and let the gospel radiate through us,” President Monson said.
SEEK GOD'S ASSISTANCE
With the decline of religion in our society, President Monson noted that many people think they have no need for a higher power and do not hearken to the counsel of God. “They suppose they know it themselves,” President Monson said noting that it is easy to fall into erroneous thinking— that we can handle anything that comes our way and that we don’t need God’s assistance.
Remember, he said, “We are spiritual beings having a human experience.”
He quoted the Apostle Paul, who admonished in 1 Timothy 4:12, “Let no man despise thy youth; but be thou an example of the believers, in word, in conversation, in charity, in spirit, in faith, in purity…”
President Monson concluded by saying, “May we always be known as followers of Christ and as such, become as lights in the world.”
Link to article on LDS.org
LIGHT OF THE WORLD
We found this beautiful image and the description below on the site of artist Howard Lyon: http://www.howardlyon.com/religious-store/light-of-the-world
“I am the light of the world: he that followeth me shall not walk in darkness, but shall have the light of life.” -John 8:12
This simple passage of scripture defines much of what it means to be Christian. To follow Christ means a life of compassion and service.It does not mean that there will not be heartache or trials. It does not mean we will not stumble and fall. Hardship is part of life, but Christ, through His atonement will be there to clear the path back to the light, bringing hope to an imperfect people trying to be better.
WHY WE DO WHAT WE DO
Our group formed last September and we excitedly dove into the same show planning, rehearsing, and music video creating that other groups do. However, we had a different motivation than just providing great entertainment and becoming successful.
Because so many people are struggling to hold onto their faith, we wanted to create a movement (through our music) for all ages to rise up in faith and be a light to the world. So far, our music and our message have been received with positive responses. Maybe it's partly because our songs aren't the typical inspirational music that people might be used to hearing. Much of our music is upbeat EDM (electronic dance music) and because the songs are fun and energizing, our message is easy to share.
SPARK is based in Cedar Hills, Utah, with members from across the Wasatch Front. Our members are in various stages of life, but our common bond is a desire to ignite faith through inspirational music.
Expressing her thoughts about music, group member Melissa Whitehead shares, "It’s easy to turn on popular radio stations but there isn’t a lot there that builds faith. I love that Christian music puts me in a better mood and helps remind me what really matters in life."
Various other group members have also mentioned that SPARK's inspirational music has affected their lives positively. When they are discouraged or facing a challenge, rehearsing and singing our show songs has uplifted them and reminded them of our Savior's love and His power to guide their lives and to save them.
SPARK members don’t just sing about faith, we each commit to a code of conduct that reflects faithful living. It’s not enough for us to just sing about faith, we have to choose to live it—through things like love and service and clean living. We can sing about God all day long, but it’s our actions that make a difference.
When discussing faith, SPARK members also shared these thoughts:
Several SPARK members have served 2-year missions for the LDS Church. Jason Bromley returned last fall from serving in Oregon. As a member of SPARK, he has the opportunity to share the same message that he shared on his mission. Through our music and message, Jason can continue to introduce people to Jesus Christ and show them where to find peace and joy.
We recently covered a song and created a music video called "This Is Living." The lyrics are an expression of the freedom we can find by choosing a life of following the Savior.
Jesus Christ is the way to find peace and joy in this world and hope for the life to come. If you even have a tiny glint of faith, SPARK invites you to join with us to rise up in faith and be a light to the world and show others where to find that peace and joy.
Trusting God in Times of Darkness
By Angelina Whitehead
In life, we often feel like the trials and despair that we face won't ever end. The past year of my life has been an emotional roller coaster (lol)! Heavenly Father has given me some really amazing experiences as well as some really terrible times of heartache, confusion, and sadness. I always wonder, why? No really, Why.
How is this trial making me better? How is this sadness making me more Christ-like? My hard times have gotten easier, but they are still here. And I still wonder why I've been given them. But I have realized that because of these trials, my faith and understanding have grown in ways I never thought that they could! Because I have them, I have been forced to find answers and forced to ask Heavenly Father for help, when I probably wouldn't have otherwise.
I know that my faith has grown because of my trials and maybe I'll someday know that there was a bigger purpose that my trials brought to pass. But in the meantime, I'm grateful that I've been able to more fully rely upon and trust in God and his plan for me and all His children.
"But behold, I, Nephi, will show unto you that the tender mercies of the Lord are over all those whom he hath chosen, because of their faith, to make them mighty even unto the power of deliverance." Nephi 1:20 #amen #nottodaysatan
SPARKS FLY FOR ANNA
This has been a busy and exciting few weeks for Anna Richey. She recently got engaged, and amidst wedding plans, she is also working toward a big finish for her IndieGogo campaign for her upcoming EP. Anna is a spirited solo artist and talented music writer and we love to brag about her, because in addition to her solo career, she shares her talent as a powerhouse vocalist for SPARK! She is a force for good in everything she does and we are excited about her new EP so she can share her music with the world! Click the link below to learn more about Anna and her venture!
A WARM WELCOME
SPARK gained 3 new members this past week! They fit in so well that you probably can't even tell which ones are new in the video below (which was filmed unintentionally while posing for our first group photo). The new members even speak "SPARK," which kind of sounds like happy fleas. Be watching for more details about new members Jason Bromley, Stephanie Goodwin and Jordan Bromley! We are so excited to have them in the group!
This new little guy joined Alyssa and McKay Crockett's family just before Christmas (and we were lucky enough to have him be part of our Christmas show at the Covey Center)! He is THE most heart-melting creature you have ever seen! His name is Davy. Davy Crockett. Stay tuned for more adorable pictures.
WE ARE ALL HIS
Romans 8:16 - The Spirit itself beareth witness with our spirit, that we are the children of God. Among the greatest treasures of knowledge that we have been given is this: we are all the children of God. This truth carries with it great blessings. It should guide us in how we treat those around us and in how we view ourselves. Each of God’s children are of great worth with immeasurable potential.
In this painting we see children from many different cultures and backgrounds. They stand with Christ, bearing witness with him that they are children of God. All of the kids look directly at the viewer confident in the joy they feel in the presence of their Savior. When we strive to see others as God would see us, our hearts are softened, our minds are opened and the Spirit comes to dwell with us, bringing peace and joy.
Credit: In searching for something beautiful to share, we found this painting and description at http://www.howardlyon.com/religious-store/i-am-a-child-of-godhttp://www.howardlyon.com/religious-store/i-am-a-child-of-god
The Light that Leads Us
By Alyssa Crockett
Lately in my life I have become obsessed with light. Everything about it captivates me. There are so many cool parallels that God has been teaching me about light and this human experience, and most of all about His love.
When I was a little girl my parents gave me a strawberry shortcake nightlight in hopes that my fear of the dark would be tamed a bit so that they could finally sleep through the night without drying too many tears. As I've grown older, I've mostly gotten over my fear of physically being in the dark, but sometimes being spiritually in the dark still frightens me.
I feel like as humans it's part of our nature to want to feel like we are in control. We want to feel like we know what's going on, where we are, and where we need to go, and surprise! We don't always know those things. And to me, that has been a very real source of fear in my life. Am I okay? Is this going to work out? What is going on? It's easy to feel lost sometimes.
Over these past few months I know that Heavenly Father has been trying to teach me that it's okay to not know everything right now, it's okay to feel a little bit like a wanderer sometimes. In my own wanderings, I have felt my Savior Jesus Christ leading me with His light. Little by little He shows me that I am never alone, He shows me that as I trust Him His light will dispel the darkness, and the fear that accompanies it. I've learned through my own, rather rocky at times, journey that the commandment to fear not is given to us because Heavenly Father and Jesus Christ love us so much. They know that this life is scary at times, and that no matter how hard we try to stay in the light, sometimes our days can be clouded with mists of darkness. But They also know that if we will trust Them, and follow the Light of Christ that everything is going to be okay, and that because of Christ we don't have to fear. I believe that sometimes God takes away what we think we want to remind us that He is what we really need. He loves us, and has a perfect plan for each of us. I know that. And so can you. Light leads us, not only physically, but spiritually. I promise that Christ's light can lead you through, and cast out your fears, He did it for me and continues to, and He can do it for you.
PAIN & JOY
By Melissa Whitehead
Recently I've learned how connected sorrow and joy really are. When we're young we experience smaller levels of pain and with it a smaller understanding of joy. As we grow older our problems and pain grow but our joy can grow with it.
Think about some of the situations people talk about being the "best moment of their life." Maybe winning a championship, their wedding day, the birth of a child, etc. If you rewind several months before each of these things take place, they might be saying it's one of the hardest things they've gone through. The physical and mental effort it takes to win a championship isn't always glamorous. Dating the wrong people for years before we finally find someone that clicks with us can be tedious and full of heartbreak. Nine months of morning sickness, mood swings, and so much more, all topped off with childbirth... sounds unpleasant to me. Yet all three of these examples end in some of "the best moments" of people's lives. I believe it's because the depth of pain and joy really are connected.
One year ago I had a deep heartbreak. When I was younger I had lost friends and family to cancer, suicide, etc. so I thought I was somewhat familiar with loss and pain. This new heartbreak brought such a deep sorrow that I was worried about my own survival. However, the day after I received the initial news, God gave me an unexpected gift. He told me I would have His perspective of myself during this trial. I never would have thought to ask for something like that but it ended up saving me. It almost felt like an out-of-body experience because I still felt intense grief but at the exact same time, I felt as if I were another person looking down on myself. The pain wasn't any less but through this second perspective, I could see how the situation was changing me and even improving me. I realized I was simultaneously feeling pain and joy.
I think this is a pretty unique situation but it showed me the direct tie between sorrow and joy. It has been a full year now and I think my heart is still healing but I also feel like this has been one of the happiest years of my life. I'm more grateful for people and the things around me. I'm a more confident person because I know I can make it through hard things. Most of all, I'm convinced that God is real and that He cares about our heartbreaks. It's easy to feel angry about our pain or the pain of a loved one, but now I know it can be our road to greater joy.
BE YOURSELF, BE HAPPY!
By Ryan Johnson
I used to care so much about what people thought. In fact, for most of my youth, my main focus was trying to fit in. I wanted to be liked and accepted. This is probably a familiar feeling for many people in their youth, if not throughout their lives. But for me it was important enough that I was willing to become a follower. I was willing to compromise values and priorities in order to be considered cool. I tried to put myself in groups of people that were popular and appeared to be exciting, fun, cool people. I wanted to be like that too.
I would say that I was successful. I had a group of friends that liked me, and I felt accepted. The confidence they had made me feel like I could follow them and that I would be happy in doing so. But I didn't feel confident or happy. I thought that I just needed to be a little more popular, attractive, hip, and edgy, THEN I would finally feel confident and happy. Why was it that after years of living this way that I wasn't happy? It wasn't until my early 20s that I started to discover the reason. I realized that I was living to please others. Everything I did was to gain approval in the eyes of other people.
It was around this time that I started to be myself. This wasn't easy. I had trained myself to think more about what others thought of me than what I thought of me. But gradually I began feeling more confident. I was content to go without the validation of others. I was able to enjoy my own natural qualities and quirks, and I was not disappointed in myself for my flaws. I learned that I can be me, and I can be happy.
Coming in 2017
SPARK is excited for 2017 and all it will bring. We want to wish you a new year that is filled with love, peace, joy, health, prosperity, and everything good!
Coming soon are the "SINGERS of SPARK" blog posts (kind of like "Humans of New York" or "People of WalMart," just not as gritty). You'll get to learn about each member below-the-surface and find out what makes them tick. You might learn how they have grown into the person they are, what their dreams are, or maybe discover some hidden nuggets of wisdom that they've never shared publicly. Be watching!
New music videos are also in the works for the coming year. Our next video will involve some fun fan participation and details will be coming soon. In the meantime, we hope you'll continue to share our "Start a Fire" music video (released November 2016) so its message can travel far and wide. We love the truth in the lyrics and particularly in the bridge of the song: "You are the fire, You are the flame, You are the light on the darkest day. We have the hope, we bear Your name, we carry the news that You have come to save. Only You can save."
BEHIND THE SCENES
Want to know something crazy about the "Start a Fire" music video? Initially, we didn't set out to make a music video, we were just planning to do a publicity photo shoot in downtown Provo. Shortly before our shoot, we discovered the song "Start a Fire" and really liked the message and sound, so we decided to do a combined shoot. At first it felt pretty haphazard doing a photo shoot and video shoot simultaneously, but we ended up having a lot of fun. We recorded the vocals AFTER the filming of the video (which is why you don't see the group singing throughout the video). The director of photography for our video was our very own multi-talented SPARK member, Nick Sales. We were also incredibly lucky to have Cameron Gade as our camera operator and Kurtis Dallon as our photographer. All three men were extremely professional and good-natured (amidst the chaos of doing both shoots) and we ended up with a music video and photos that we are proud of. (We can't forget a shout out to Dan Williams for the editing the music video!)
By now you may have heard of SPARK, a brand new contemporary Christian vocal group with members from across the Wasatch Front! Details about our group are on our website at www.SparkSingers.com and many more behind-the-scenes details are yet to be shared on our blog!
Judging by our publicity pictures, you might think we're a serious bunch, but we've included a few shots below to prove differently. We love to sing and we love to have fun, but most of all, we love the gospel of Jesus Christ and the joy it brings into our lives.
We're part of a Christmas concert on December 22nd and everyone is invited! The song lineup includes Christmas-themed songs as well as some fun pop songs! Click here for tickets!
We are super excited about our new Christmas video and it would mean a lot to us if you would share it with your friends and family! We believe that Jesus Christ came to the world to bring salvation to mankind; He came to #LIGHTtheWORLD and bring us hope! Help us share the good news! (Don't forget to subscribe to our channel to see future music videos!)
More to come!