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Liturgical worship man Mike Stanley dies aged 48
MIDLANDS-based singer, songwriter and one half of Catholic liturgical worship duo Boyce & Stanley, Mike Stanley, died on 6th June at St Giles Hospice in Lichfield, West Midlands. For many years Mike headed CJM Music, a teaching, worship and evangelistic ministry which saw Stanley become one of the most important figures in the British Catholic church's music ministry. Mike was born in Walsall in 1965. Mike's father had at one time trained for the priesthood. At the age of six Mike's parish priest gave him a Spanish guitar and by the time he came to study at Leicester Polytechnic he was singing songs in the Christian Union and also playing in pubs performing mainstream cover versions. In 1987 he made his first zero-budget recording, 'Changes', followed by 'Broken Dreams' (1989) and 'Lead Kindly Light' (1991). Mike also began performing regularly with the Irish folk group Drowsy Maggie.
Mike joined the Divine Love Community in Erdington, Birmingham, and began writing worship songs for them. In 1992 Mike met black singer, songwriter and guitarist Jo Boyce and, three years later the album 'And Again I Say Rejoice!', credited to Jo Boyce And Mike Stanley, was released on their newly forged CJM Music. Months later the keyboard player and one-time member of Heartbeat, Chris Rolinson, joined the duo and the next three albums, 'Imagine A World' (1996), 'Born For This' (1997) and 'Live @ The Crossing' (1998) were released credited Rolinson, Boyce & Stanley before Rolinson left the group. Now named Boyce & Stanley, Jo and Mike became hugely influential in Catholic churches and schools across the UK and overseas. Boyce & Stanley albums such as 'Love In The Air' (1997), 'The Word Made Flesh' (1999) and 'In The Company Of Angels' (2000) were released, the latter containing the track "The Book" which was a UCB radio turntable hit. In 2001 the Christmas EP 'The Promise' was issued followed by several very popular Christmas tours. In 2007 Boyce & Stanley created considerable media interest when they sent Pope Benedict an ipod containing the latest album 'Age To Age: Songs For A Pilgrim People'. Boyce & Stanley continued to minister tirelessly and Mike also released the solo CDs the EP 'Faith' and the album 'Dewfall'.
In 2012 Mike was diagnosed with cancer. The CJM Music website advising of Mike's passing quoted from an interview Mike gave in 1993 to Cross Rhythms magazine: "I read a book by Gerald Hughes called God Of Surprises. In it he asked the reader, if they were to die, what their epitaph might be. Now, once it would have been something like 'he entertained a lot of people and put a song in their heart'. But now that's not enough. I'd like my epitaph to read 'he communicated the love of God and touched people's hearts'."
Cross Rhythms' Tony Cummings will write a personal appreciation of his friend and one-time songwriting partner next week.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.