In Old Testament times the nation of Israel was divided into twelve tribes—each with a specific function within the larger society.
The tribe of Levi was the men of the priesthood. Decreed by the Law of Moses to be forever responsible for the care and function of the temple and all religious functions and activities required by the complex set of laws in the Levitical texts—needles to say the priesthood was more than a calling. It was a lifestyle. Is it then any surprise that openly gay singer/songwriter Levi Kreis who was once immersed in the Christian church is now using his music to revisit those years as a minister doing the work he felt called to.
Kreis is what I like to refer to as “the total package." Not only is the sexy 26 year-old very easy on the eyes, but he also has a real depth and passion for his 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 returned to Nashville in order to perform two shows of his work at Play and the Radio Café alongside his co-writer Darci Monet.
The new album entitled “The Gospel According to Levi" is a collection of songs addressing the circumstances surrounding Kreis’ negative experiences with the church and how he worked through the issues surrounding those events in order to become the man that he is today.
Levi’s background as a former minister and favorite son of the Contemporary Christian Music industry clearly informs this stunning conceptual piece as he once more takes to the podium to speak the truth as he has come to know it and the Gospel that Levi is preaching through his music is uplifting, introspective and just a little bit infectious. He has a knack for the perfect hook backed up by sweet to the depths vocals that are like licorice soul dipped in smooth velvet chocolate covered in honey and served with vanilla ice cream.
“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, everyone with their own name for God,” Kreis elaborated with enthusiasm about his work. “Every one of them is convinced that they 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 maybe our way is not the only right way it’s just another way among many. If we were able to expound upon our belief system enough to allow for other people’s journey’s them we might just get a little bit closer to loving our neighbors as ourselves.”
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. Even 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. Though he points out that there is a lot more information out there for kids of the next generation to access alongside public figures that are showing every day it is okay to be gay, there are still lots of situations where coming to terms with their sexuality is still a devastating experience. Kreis’ response is much the same as the message that he gives on the upcoming album.
“I tell them they don’t have to have all the answers right now,” said Kreis with empathy. “They need to learn to understand themselves as perfect in the eyes of God exactly as they are. 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 to what it is they believe their sexuality is in the eyes of God.”
It’s clear that Levi’s calling as a minister is far from over. Like the Levites of old he preaches on. Praise God!