Jason & deMarco ready to lift Nashville with music from the heart

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Holy Trinity Community Church is hosting a concert by Jason & deMarco on Saturday, December 30 at 7p.m. This concert is a fundraiser for Holy Trinity’s expansion fund. The concert has a suggested donation of $10.

There will also be a silent auction and an artist’s reception afterwards hosted by Steve Deasy with ReMax/Elite Real Estate Services.

Jason and deMarco met in 2001. Jason Warner grew up traveling with his mother in music ministry, and eventually joined her. Jason toured with the professional contemporary recording group Truth in 1996, and then with the group The Sound in 1997 and 1998. He decided to go solo in 1998 to form his own independent recording label, RJN MUSIC! originally based in Nashville, TN. deMarco DeCiccio is a native of Canada. Since relocating to the West Coast in 1999, deMarco has performed in concerts and at festivals and clubs throughout Los Angeles and across the country. deMarco has been in several theatrical productions, and his face has also been seen on several National commercials. Before launching their duo act, deMarco was the lead in a musical entitled "California Dream Men", touring Italy. After recording three albums together, the two formed RJN MUSIC! into a business partnership. Since, the duo has opened their own studio out of Houston, TX, where they have launched Letthead Productions, a production company aimed to help independent artists with recording, manufacturing and graphic design, working with artists from start to finish in recording a new project.

Thank you very much for taking time out of your busy schedule to talk to me. How does it feel to be coming back to Nashville?

Jason: RREEEAAAALLLLLLYYY GOOD! This is my old stomping ground. It brings back lots of memories. I lived in Nashville after coming out and I grew a lot. It’s a special place for me.

What inspired you to get involved with the concert series at Holy Trinity?

Jason: When Holy Trinity contacted us, we were planning on being with my parents for Christmas in the Gatlinburg area, and the church had an opening, so it was a perfect opportunity for us to be a part of Holy Trinity expanding and extending the scope of their outreach.You sang once before at Holy Trinity almost two years ago.

Since then your music has evolved to include more elements other than the spiritual. What prompted this shift?

Jason: Since our last concert at Holy Trinity on Sunday March 6th 2005, we’ve released a mainstream album entitled “Till the End of Time” along with some remixes of the first single “Trying to Get to You” which got on the Billboard charts this past ummer and a music video for the second single “This is Love” which just won Video of the Year 2006 on MTV’s Logo. We decided to record a mainstream album because we want our music to be inclusive, not exclusive to one particular group of people. We’ve met countless people that have said that they’ve heard of us sing before and like our music, but they aren’t able to pay for an expensive ticket for an HRC Gala or Matthew Shepard Benefit, nor are they comfortable coming to a church to hear us sing.

Unfortunately many people, particularly in the gay community, have been burnt by the church, or at least not welcomed, and so they have a negative association with churches, gay friendly or not. Unfortunately, this prevents many from coming to see us. So we’ve created music that we can bring to them in other venues that’s still full of messages, relating to life’s ups and downs, and particularly dealing with relationships. Unfortunately, even with the progress the GLBT community has made, there is still no room for “Gay” artists in the Christian music industry. We had to think about our longterm future if we want to continue doing this as a full-time career. In addition, we never want our outreach to the community of faith to be about work. Our goal is that our mainstream career will support our outreach efforts. We will always continue to record albums for the community of faith. It’s simply in our blood and they are a core part of our fan base.

deMarco: It seems that we’ve been trying to make a career in an area that’s uncharted.

The gay community doesn’t know what to do with us because we’re spiritual. The mainline Christians don’t want us because we’re gay. And the secular music industry won’t sign us because we’re to too gay and too spiritual. Obviously the music industry still is unwilling to take a chance on gay artists so there is a work to be done there too.

It’s sad that this is still an issue in this world today. It’s sad that people still have to focus on that rather than our music. So our answer is to make music ourselves that everyone can relate to. We don’t like people calling us ‘cross-over’ artists because we aren’t leaving one group to go to another. As we build our mainstream audience and further our mainstream pop career, we will continue providing inspirational music to our fans. And we will also continue singing in churches. It won’t be as often, but we never want to lose that connection. We are simply expanding our audience and believe we can reach all people with our music.Your bio talks about you meeting at a restaurant in 2001.

What inspired you to begin recording together?

Jason: When I decided to move to Los Angeles to pursue a mainstream pop career, I met deMarco. After meeting deMarco who had moved to LA to do the same thing and was very active in theater, we dated for a year and realized that if we were going to have a serious relationship, we both couldn’t be gallivanting around the world. So, we said,’let’s try to do something together". We launched a Christmas tour in 2002 and it was a huge success. We toured 23 cities in the month of December. I had a built in fan base from all of the gay friendly churches I had visited over the 3 yrs I had been doing so fulltime solo, and they welcomed deMarco and myself with open arms. After our Christmas tour, many of the churches wanted us to come back, so we recorded a new album, kept touring and never really stopped. We never intended to become the ‘poster boys’ for the gay community of faith, but I think we represent ‘hope’ that it is possible to be gay, committed, spiritual, and successful and do a good work and reaching out to others with our gifts and we do-so willingly knowing that we’re saving lives.Has the introduction of LGBT networks, such as LOGO, had an effect on your careers?

deMarco: Our exposure on LOGO has given us an opportunity to gain some credibility as musicians. Being pegged the “Gay-Christian” guys has resulted in some discrimination over the past few years and LOGO gave us an opportunity to have a fresh start with people that didn’t have any preconceived judgments. The unexpected enthusiasticresponse for our video is the best reward that Jason & I could ever receive for putting ourselves on the line because of what we believe in, especially when we have the audacity to presume that the rest of the world will just go along with it. Our video has introduced us to so many new fans and touched so many lives. All that we’ve been working for in the last four years has led us to this very moment; the opportunity to take the next step and reach out to even more people with our music and message. Music often has a way of moving hearts and healing spirits.

Your music is very uplifting and hopeful. This must make an impact on some of your listeners. Have any stories you’d like to share?

deMarco: We have hundreds of stories to share. What’s been really exciting is that some people have met their soul mates at one of our concerts, fallen in love and gotten married. Other than that here’s a few SHORT emails that were very encouraging: “I just recently found out about you two from Logo and was blessed to purchase your CD’s this week. I have been playing Songs of the Spirit almost nonstop since I got it. I can’t put into words what your music has done for me. It has reinforced to me that I can be and am a child of God and he not only loves but blesses me and my relationship with my partner. In just the short time I have had your cd’s I have grown in my appreciation for what God had given me and how he continues to lift me up. Thank you again, not only for the music but for the message. Tell the youth out there that being gay is not a death sentence. WE can have live and life more abundantly. We are children of God. Get the word out there through. You are in my prayers. God continue to bless and use you both.

”Here’s another one:

“You two are such positive images for all peoples, especially the young who need to know they are not alone, and it’s not their fault they were born with their genetic makeup. Thanks to you, many young people will see your Love and your Light come through, and the rest of us are constantly amazed and inspired by your love and devotion. Hope to see you in the MidWest some time soon, and I will keep checking your schedule so that I don’t miss you if you are near. Your poster is on my closet door, every morning I see your beautiful faces and you inspire me to be a better person every single day to every person that crosses my path. Thank you so much for just being you. with love, hope, light and laughter, Happy 2007.”

And one more:

“Dear Jason, I know you probably won’t remember me because I’m sure many people contact you daily. I e-mailed you back in the summer to say how much I enjoyed your music. I just want to say thank you for the letter you wrote for the monthly newsletter. I must admit I have been truly struggling to deal with my disappointment and anger with the results of the election. I don’t like feeling that way. I try to be positive and hopeful that this country will one day accept all gay people as equals, entitled to equal rights and protection under the law. HRC, PFLAG, and Soulforce all had letters and statements of encouragement but it was your letter that finally got me over the "hump". I am more determined than ever to fight for full acceptance and rights for my son, his partner, you, and deMarco.

We drive 80 miles every Sunday to worship at Metropolitan Community Church of Greater St.Louis. We have been going for 6 weeks and we love it so much. I can’t help crying during the service sometimes because my heart breaks for the kids that have been rejected by their parents. I will NEVER understand that. I was so excited to learn that you have a song on the HRC CD. I had just pre-ordered it on Thursday. I’m sorry this e-mail is so long. I know I don’t really know you but I feel like I do through your music. Please keep giving a voice to all the gay kids across the country. Lead by example. I always tell my boys that you are helping the cause just by living openly and honestly. Maybe some little boy still wearing diapers will have an easier life because of you. Once again, thank you. I wish you and deMarco a blessed holiday season.

”How has traveling around the country impacted your views and music?

Jason: We’ve gotten to meet thousands of people and hear their stories which have, in turn, inspired us. We’ve had so many amazing experiences over the past four years of touring. Performing at the HRC Gala honoring director Ang Lee was pretty awesome. We’ve also performed in front of KD Lang, and we have been part of events for wonderful organizations such as The Mathew Shepard Foundation and The Trevor Project.

deMarco: We love meeting our fans and their stories continue to remind us of why we do what we do. When we have teens coming up to us, telling us they were considering suicide until they heard about us and went to our site and read our story, it means more than words can say. We get countless emails from people telling us that through our music and story, they have hope.

Have you come across much negativity towards what you do?

Jason: We try and stay clear of the negativity by only singing in venues that are welcoming and gay friendly. Some of the churches that we sing in are in the process of reconciling and bring us in to share our stories of reconciliation and be a ‘face’ behind the issue. It’s a waste of time going into places where the people aren’t willing to listen or consider our point of views.

deMarco: Fred Phelps has picketed a concert or two of ours before but we’ve had some of the largest crowds at those shows come out and support us. We’ve joked and said that we wish he’d picket every show! LOL

Jason: We’ve been really lucky and blessed not to have much hatred or scary situations. We’ve never received hate mail physically, and we’ve only received a few bad emails. Most people email us questions asking “HOW” we can believe what we believe. On our spiritual website www.spiritpop.com, I have an entire section devoted to being RECONCILED, why I believe what I believe, discussion of the bible and the passages used against GLBT people. I list many resources for people to search out. I think the main reason we don’t receive a lot of backlash is because we don’t put out hatred. We never claim to have “THE” answer or know “THE” truth. We simply say we can agree to disagree, but do so in love and compassion. It’s hard to fight LOVE and we believe love is our greatest weapon.

deMarco: One thing I know for certain is that no matter what kind of music we make or what kind of words we speak, some people are going to like us and some just wont; so we might as well put ourselves and our music out there in a way that moves our soul and makes us happy.What are your plans for the future?

Jason: Well, we’re working on a new single that we’re planning to release just in time for the 2007 Pride season. We also have a feature documentary movie that’s in post-production about the last four years that explores our lives as we travel the country, following our dreams and touching the hearts of the people we meet. The film will offer audiences a close look at how we live, how we balance our musical careers and our personal relationship as well as our spirituality and sexuality, as we prepared to launch our latest album, "Till the end of Time." We’ve also tried doing as much as we can independently, but I think we’ve grown beyond our abilities. So, I think the next step is to sign a record deal to take us to the next phase. Until then, we’ll keep doing what we do. We’ve been able to do music full time for four years now, and I think the best is yet to come.

deMarco: Our schedule has been pretty crazy over the past four years touring, so my hope is that we can do bigger concerts, tour a little less and enjoy each other as ‘boyfriends’ and eventually begin a family. We also have visions of working to develop a Center for Youth who have been abandoned and rejected because of their sexuality. As we travel, we are finding many who want to be a part of this dream, and it becomes more obvious with every city that we visit that something like this is necessary. So many of our youth have nowhere to turn. We want to use our music as a tool to raise awareness of many of these issues, and create solutions. The music is great, but there’s a much bigger purpose to everything we are doing.

Jason: We believe we’re here to be part of a movement. I’ve always said Martin Luther King could have never done what he did if he hadn’t been an African American. I believe that we could never have the impact that we have if we hadn’t been born gay and become ‘ok’ with being so. People have to get over their prejudices and realize that we are all part of ONE HUMAN FAMILY. We need one another. Unfortunately, it takes tragedies and devastation for humans to wake up and realize this. Through our music, and our life, we hope we can help people understand that you don’t have to agree with us, or even support our beliefs, but you can respect us as a fellow human being. The entire message of the church is supposed to be to LOVE ONE ANOTHER – "Judge not" and "do unto OTHERS as you would have them do UNTO YOU". We’re never going to all agree on everything – but we can walk in peace regardless. This is our belief and message.

deMarco: We would like our music to make people feel good about who they are, to help people love themselves and than others. People often come up to us and thank us for all that we’re doing but we find ourselves asking well "what is it that we are doing?” We’re just being ourselves; all aspects of ourselves, and we’re not compromising who we are for our relationship, our career, or our outreach to the spiritual community.

I am looking forward to your concert. I even heard a rumor that State of Grace (Holy Trinity’s choir) will be singing with you.

deMarco: Your secret is safe with us. We love surprises! Thank you so much for your time.

You’re welcome. Thanks for your support.For more information on Jason & deMarco visit www.jasonanddemarco.com. For more information about Holy Trinity Community Church, visit www.Holytrinitycommunitychurch.com