Levi Kreis writes his own gospel

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Singer/songwriter Levi Kreis is what I like to refer to as “the total package.”

Not only is the sexy 26 year-old easy on the eyes, but he also has a real depth and passion for music that shines like a beacon to anyone fortunate enough to be exposed to his work.

I first got to see Kreis perform as one-half of last summer’s Gay.com Rock Out Tour alongside gay folk-rock phenomenon Eric Himan, and my expectations were well surpassed. Kreis mesmerized the crowd at Douglas Corner with his confessional, honest and uplifting vocals interlaced perfectly with his superb skills on the keyboard.

In November, Kreis will return to Nashville where he will perform his song “Stained Glass Window” as part of the presentation of Del Shores’ “Southern Baptist Sissies" for which he wrote the song. Kreis will also take time to perform two shows of his own work at Play Dance Club and the Radio Café alongside his co-writer Darci Monet. Monet will also perform a set of her own at both shows.

“I haven’t been back to Nashville since the Gay.com tour this summer, and I am so excited,” gushed Kreis during a recent phone interview with "O&AN." “Anyone who comes to the two shows will get to hear about 40 minutes of my new album performed.”

The new album, entitled “The Gospel According to Levi” and scheduled for release January 30, will be a collection of songs addressing the circumstances surrounding Kreis’ negative experiences with the church.

“I wanted to suggest that in this world there are thousands of different cultures and thousands of different belief systems with their own holy books, and everyone with their own name for god,” Kreis elaborated with enthusiasm about the upcoming release. “Every one of them is convinced that their way is the right way and that everyone else is wrong and are willing to die for what they believe. I wanted to make a body of work that suggested that maybe our way is not the right way; it’s just another way among many, and if we were able to expound upon our belief system enough to allow for other people’s journeys then we might just get a little bit closer to loving our neighbors as ourselves.”

Kreis points to his work touring with “Southern Baptists Sissies” as the inspiration for this body of work as it helped to keep him in a certain mindset that resonated with the same message that “Sissies” does.

Fittingly, Kreis opens the album with a stirring, soulful rendition of the old gospel tune “It is Well With My Soul” as a signal that though he is willing to confront the church and the behavior and prejudice that is used to divide and separate people, at the end of the day his love-hate relationship with the church really does still begin and end with love and acceptance for where he has been as a Christian – though he no longer adheres to that particular label.

Kreis still receives letters and e-mails from kids going through much of the same things that he did in the church. He points out that there is a lot more information out there for kids of the next generation to access, along with public figures that are showing every day that it is okay to be gay; however, there are still many situations where coming to terms with their sexuality is a devastating experience. Kreis’ response is much the same as the message he gives on the upcoming album.

“I tell them they don’t have to have all the answers right now,” said Kreis with empathy. “The hardest thing really is the realization that you are a divine being perfect in the eyes of god exactly the way that you are. I don’t believe that it’s a sin to be gay, but a lot of people will have to have their own journey with that and come to their own conclusion about what it is they believe their sexuality is in the eyes of God.”

Levi Kreis will perform as part of Southern Baptists Sissies in addition to performing two shows of his own during his time in Nashville. The first will be on Nov. 9 at Play at 9 p.m. followed by another performance on Nov. 11 at the Radio Café at 9 p.m. He will be accompanied at both shows by fellow songwriter (who co-wrote two of the songs on Levi’s debut “One of the Ones”) Darci Monet. Kreis’ new album “The Gospel According to Levi” will hit the stores on January 30, 2007.