Tony Cummings met up with Cornwall-based Texans TREVOR & CONNIE
Being born in Texas and growing up listening to Southern gospel music seems an unlikely start for someone who has made a record of rock-orientated worship with renowned Brit producer Paul Burton. But that is what has happened to Trevor Smith, who, with his wife Connie, has recently released their debut EP 'Glorious Wonder'. Trevor and Connie are now part of the ministry team at Souls Harbour Church in Camelford, Cornwall. I spoke to the couple recently to find out how two Texans should find their way into British worship music circles.
Trevor was born in Conroe, just outside Houston. He got serious about music when he was a teenager. Commented Trevor, "I was probably about 12, 13 years old, and I started playing bass for our jazz band in school. God started opening different doors and eventually I became a member of the band Imagine This after they were renamed Lloyd and then the group Vapor."
While power pop rockers Imagine This/Lloyd were still touring, Trevor met up with a young lady called Connie and the two of them began doing worship music together. Explained Connie, "My grandfather sang in a barbershop quartet - different to Trevor's Southern gospel routes. I was born in Victoria, Texas, which isn't too far out of Houston. We were in our early 20s when we met. I remember, since I was tiny, all I ever wanted to do was be a singer. I started singing in my church - that's what you do, in choir - then when I was about 19 or 20 I was a rock singer in a band. This guy came to audition to play bass with us, and he was cute. The rest is history. . ."
In June of 2011 the married couple made the momentous decision to relocate to Cornwall. Trevor explained the circumstances that led up to that decision: "I was youth pastor at a church and my senior pastor had no idea that we all of a sudden felt called to missions. He came to England to do a pastors' conference; he sat down with David Flanders, who we're working with now, and David began to share with him what he was looking for, what he needed help with. My pastor from the States, not knowing our call, said, 'Who you need is Trevor'. He meant somebody like me. But then when he got home, I said, 'We feel called to missions. And it's to England.' He immediately smiled, and he's like, 'I know exactly where you're supposed to go'.
"We had two weeks until our plane trip over, and we stepped out in faith and bought the tickets. We'd already purchased the tickets, but we hadn't applied for our visas. We got our visas Friday, we submitted them from Texas to New York; they sent us an email on Monday, saying, 'We've got them; we're going to start processing them now'. If you know anything about visas, it takes four to six weeks - if you're lucky. We had them in our hands within 48 hours!"
At the airport, things seemed a little strange. "We'd sold everything we owned to move to England, 5,000 miles from our friends and family. We had three suitcases, a pedal-board and two guitars. I was sitting in the plane and I'm like, 'God, I know you've confirmed it umpteen times. Confirm it one more time. When I get off the plane, help me to see without a doubt this is what we're supposed to do.' So we get off the plane, we're waiting in the customs line. It was long - 800 people - we were down a hallway, just waiting. Families with kids all around us, and this little man comes by and pulls us out of the line, sets us up against the wall. He didn't say anything to anyone else. Then he just walks back and forth about three or four times. About the fourth time I was getting a little worried, because our spot was getting closer and closer. I even said to the lady who came by, 'He pulled us out of the line. Our spot's up there.' She was like, 'He knows what he's doing'. He walks back by, and we're still a longways from the customs; he looks at me as if he kind of forgot. He takes us, walks us to the very front of the line to the customs agent, past hundreds of people. God was saying, 'Yes. I want you here. I haven't revealed every reason why, but you're being faithful, and I want you here.' It's incredible to watch God do those things."
At Souls Harbour the Smiths became friendly with LED, the electro pop evangelists who were doing a lot of schools work all over the West Country. Explained Trevor, "We started hanging out, then one day they asked if we wanted to be a part of what they were doing - because they'd seen what we do. We're like, 'Sure, why not?' Now that's a part of what we do."
Trevor explained how the duo came to link up with top producer Paul Burton. "We didn't come over here to record an album. We came over to serve David Flanders at Souls Harbour Church. Even though our hearts are about music, we put that on hold to say, 'OK, God, whatever you want'. We were a part of an event that happened at the Royal Cornwall Showground called Walk His Trail with Steve Saint - the movie End Of The Spear. Cathy Burton led worship that night; I needed somebody to run the soundboard and her husband Paul Burton was there. I didn't know who he was, I had no idea. I asked him to run this little 12-channel board and he graciously did. I started telling Paul how to operate it but quickly realised he knew what he was doing Afterwards, Cathy told me who he was, who he'd worked with; I felt really dumb! That day came and went, it was done, and I started writing music. It had been a long time since I'd written music. We decided, maybe we need to do something about this. Paul had mentioned that he had a studio, so I called him up. We started talking, and he started laying out the musicians that we wanted to have on the album - Mark Prentice, Dan Wheeler, Paul Evans - all just incredible."
Trevor continued, "We went up and we got the six-song mini-album within four days of us being there. He took three more days to get it done. It blows us away how God does what he does. The story that's going on in our lives, you can't write it. It's unbelievable. We still don't know why: we look at it and we say, 'We love leading people in worship, we love doing it - but, God, why did you bring us to Camelford, a little town in Cornwall, to do what I've been wanting to do for years?' Who knows? He does. I don't. But it's amazing. Being with Lloyd, with Vapor, we've done many things - we went to LA, we did the Hollywood music scene. But what we're seeing God doing in Cornwall beats all of that."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.