Reviewed by Tony Cummings
Spotlight Praise and Todah
Remember that tingle? Recall the first time you heard a Matt Redman or Paul Oakley or Delirious? and felt, instantly, that these guys were carrying something from God? May I suggest that this foursome from Blackwood, South Wales (yep, the birthplace of the Manic Street Preachers) carry that same something and this EP shows still a band that though in embryonic development have the potential to minister deeply. The piece de resistance is the opener, “Lead Me”, a turbulent, churning guitar-driven worship song with a delicious bass riff that passionately goes for the spiritual jugular. That most talented of producers Tony Silcock captures the epic, anthemic charge of the song. The other three Lewis Parfitt songs here are maybe a tad slow and less arresting than the opener and could have done with fuller arrangements. But Todah are still grassroots talent with bags of anointing.
Tony Cummings pitched some questions at Todah's Lewis Parfitt and Teresa Furmage.
Give us the facts, just the facts, man.
(Lewis Parfitt) A few of us started to play together in 1997. We formed a band to play at a church Christmas concert and we did a few covers. People told us we sounded great, so we carried on playing together. We played in the church worship group, but started to write our own songs that needed a different outlet. Soon there was a large event taking place in 1999 called Fusion and we were asked to play. So we did, but realised we needed a name. So after much thought and deliberation, a name was thought of - Blue Strawberry Jam. We played under that embarrassing name for about four years. Then we realised that what we had was good and that God had definitely given us an anointing in what we were doing. We were playing a lot of gigs and people liked us. That’s when we decided to take it seriously, Christmas 2001. Todah’s line up is Chris Price, lead guitar; Teresa Furmage, bass; Peter Jones, drums; Lewis Parfitt, vocals, acoustic guitar.
Why the name Todah?
(Teresa Furmage) The name Todah came about after we decided to take our music more seriously. Todah is a Hebrew word that means “sacrifice of praise and leading people into worship.”
Your CD sleeve says "sponsored by Photospeed." What's Photospeed?
(Lewis) I work in a photo developing shop in the busy town of Blackwood as a photographer. (There is a studio there as well.) My boss there is a guy called Vijay Jindle, who just so happens to be a Hindu. Nevertheless, we have become good friends and he offered to sponsor our band to record an EP, knowing full well we are born again Christians. So if you’re looking for a prayer topic – how about Vijay’s salvation?
Your song "Teach" deals with getting your heart broken at the end of a relationship. Do you think there is a tendency, even within the Church, for us to expect things out of romantic relationships that we can only get from God?
(Lewis) I think we are all guilty of looking to romantic relationships for our answers. It’s funny. I believe that there is a part of everyone who longs to have someone else to share life with. I have recently been married, only seven months ago. My wife Maria is older than me and she had been praying for a husband for years. She then came to a place saying, “Okay God, I don’t need a husband, I’m satisfied with you, you’re all I need.” It was then God said to her, “Okay, that’s all I wanted to know – here’s your husband. Enjoy!” I think we all need to be in that place where we are completely relying on God and are not dependant on anything else. Then God will give us our hearts desires, because then he knows we are ready for them.
You come from Blackwood. How come you don't sound like the Manics?
(Lewis, laughing) I guess we have a lot to live up to! The Manics are a great band, but they are the Manics. I think what we have is a great sound which is Todah’s. I hope that in years to come people will ask other bands from Blackwood, “How come you don’t sound like Todah?” But for that we’ll have to wait and see.
What have you been learning spiritually since the band started?
(Teresa) Spiritually I believe that God wants us to develop our songs in a more spiritual way and we as a band want to make sure that God and his will is at the centre of everything we do.
Now you've got your debut EP out the way, what's the next stage?
(Lewis) We really want to start gigging again. Play as much as we can live. We want to try and raise our profile a bit, but mainly we are about leading people into worship. When we have those opportunities, we revel in it. We are a live band. That’s what we are about: the experience, the atmosphere, the anointing.
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