Jeff Deyo: The one time lead singer of Sonicflood reaching saturation point

Monday 1st July 2002

One-time Sonicflood singer JEFF DEYO holds a vision to see Nashville become a renowned place of worship. Tony Cummings reports.

Jeff Deyo Band
Jeff Deyo Band

The torturous disintegration of the original Sonicflood after the release of their groundbreaking 'Sonicflood' rock praise album did little to help the reputation of Nashville's CCM scene. But now the dust has settled. A brand new Sonicflood have emerged to release the 'Resonate' CD, one-time band members Jason Halbert and Dwayne Larring have become acclaimed record producers for acts like Petra and Matt Redman, and Sonicflood's original lead singer Jeff Deyo has stepped forward with a brilliant rock worship debut 'Saturate' for Gotee Records. Aided and abetted by special guests tobyMac, Fleming And John and Rebecca St James, and with the same producers that made 'Sonicflood' such a tour de force, the album, in the words of the Cross Rhythms review, features "brilliantly inventive arrangements of Vineyard evergreens ("More Love, More Power") with powerhouse originals."

For observers of the Nashville scene, one of the most encouraging aspects of Jeff Deyo's emergence has been his decision to continue the monthly gathering for God's people to come together for Nashville's transformation. Those meetings, originally called Sonicpraise, have been renamed WorshipCityPraise. Commented Jeff, "Our vision hasn't changed; just the name. We decided since this gathering was not about a man or a band, but about Nashville being transformed into the likeness of Jesus, we would go ahead and start calling it by the name it has been prophesied to become. You probably know that Nashville is currently known around the world as Music City USA. Well, a number of years ago it was prophesied that this city would become known around the world as Worship City USA. So, as a step of faith, we have decided that we should begin calling things that aren't as if they are until they are! We're gonna worship God with our songs and our lifestyles and pray for this city with a 2 Chronicles 7:14 mindset until Nashville actually becomes transformed by the power of the Holy Spirit into Worship City USA!"

Jeff continued, "We are not satisfied with a small sign in front of church that reads, 'Revival This Week'. We want the Spirit of God to literally come down in power and authority as thousands upon thousands of Christians submit their lives wholly and completely to Jesus. As this happens, we pray that the rivers of Living Water contained within us would burst out of our souls creating a tidal wave that flows through the streets of our cities, towns and neighbourhoods washing away ungodliness of all kinds. We plan to lead by example as we worship God with our songs, our prayers and our lives! We believe that God will hear from Heaven, forgive us (his people) of our sins and heal (transform) our city, as we come together to humble ourselves, pray, seek God's face and turn from our selfish ways (2 Chronicles 7:14). We also want to be a part of answering Jesus' prayer to the Father in John 17 for us to be one. As this begins to happen, Jesus said that many people would believe that he was sent to the earth - many people. This is what we want! Our worship gatherings are for all God's people of all ages, races, denominations and backgrounds to come together with the purpose of worshipping our God and praying for the spiritual healing and transformation of our cities and nations. We don't worship God based on a music style, but rather on a lifestyle. The purpose of these gatherings is not simply unity. To have hundreds of thousands of worshippers gathered in stadiums is awesome, but this is not the ultimate goal. A transformed or 'awakened' city is the true goal. Call it evangelism, call it revival, call it fulfilling the great commission, call it whatever you want -we just want many people to truly and deeply come to know Jesus. But true unity must happen in us first."

When pitched the tough question, what is the future of Sonicflood, Jeff is quite candid. "There were some differences in the band and everybody went their own separate ways. If you look on the back cover of the CD, there are four guys [on it] and none of those guys are with the band currently calling itself Sonicflood. And none of the guys that are in the band Sonicflood were on the first album. To me, it's a bit confusing. I can be honest and say there were some legal threats, legal wrangling as you might put it, for placement and control. It's disappointing and saddening for the Kingdom of God. I got out before all that stuff happened. It wasn't really my decision to leave. The other guys asked me to leave. I think it was really God protecting me from what was about to happen. That's all I would say at this point."

In the stormy period between the break-up of the original Sonicflood and the recording of 'Saturate', Jeff contributed to the various artists project 'He Chose The Nails' inspired by the best selling book by Max Lucado. Jeff explained how he came to contribute to the album. "I was working with Bryan Lenox, who helped us produce the 'Sonicflood' record, and he was telling me about this upcoming project he was working on with Max Lucado. While he was describing it, I remember thinking to myself, 'I would like to be a part of something like that.' And literally, like six months later, Bryan calls me and says that one of the bands has to back out and there's an opportunity for me to write a song for that. I had a couple songs written... I was on the Newsboys tour [at the time]. I put my cell phone down, picked up my guitar and played These Hands' over the phone and they were like, "That's the song!' We've gotta have that one!' It was a great feeling to be a part of that. For me, it brought back one of the most basic but foundational messages, the Cross. Like [Max] says, 'Without the Cross, there's nothing!'"

Of all the riveting tracks on 'Saturate', probably the most attention grabbing is Jeff's radical recasting of the George Beverly Shea '50s oldie "I'd Rather Have Jesus". Jeff told CCM magazine how he came to re-invent the song. "I was sitting at a Billy Graham crusade and George Beverly Shea sang it and it was like it was the first time I'd ever heard it. The message was relevant... but I thought the music made it like it was written in another language. So I wrote new music for it." CR

The opinions expressed in this article are not necessarily those held by Cross Rhythms. Any expressed views were accurate at the time of publishing but may or may not reflect the views of the individuals concerned at a later date.
About Tony Cummings
Tony CummingsTony Cummings is the music editor for Cross Rhythms website and attends Grace Church in Stoke-on-Trent.


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