Savannah Songwriters Artist Feature – Gary Swindell

G.S.Songworks – “Music for your heart, mind, & Soul”

Gary Swindell is an Actor, Singer, Songwriter & Musician who brings unique perspective and experience to his music.

His extensive Jazz, Gospel & Theatrical background shines through in highly expressive phrasing and musical textures. Swindell is focused on creating music that touches the heart mind and soul of the listener.

He serves faithfully as Minister of Music for  Pentecostal Miracle Deliverance Center International Ministries and as Musical Director for PAC- Performing Arts Collective of Savannah.

IN HIS OWN WORDS

HOW IT ALL STARTED

It gets a little annoying at times but most of my life people often assumed i was dropped from some alien craft in the middle of the night because my way of looking at the world and expressing ideas can be a bit peculiar and unexpected so here is a little of my (terrestrial) family background & musical influence.

Mrs. Mable A. Swindell (Mamma) was my primary vocal model. She loved hymns & memorized (I believe) the entire Gospel Pearls hymnal. Today I can open a hymnal to any page and remember hearing the song beautifully & soulfully sung.To me her singing voice was amazing! She had a smooth 2.5 octave range and perfect expressive vibrato that she called upon for effect whenever she wanted. I believe that the foundation of my songwriting structure today is the hymn. Mom’s musical taste was very broad. She loved Ella Fitzgerald every bit as much as she loved Mahalia Jackson, and sang a mean “Straighten up & fly right”. She also had a habit of reciting poetry by Langston Hughes just out of nowhere.

My Father’s, purpose musically in my life much like in all other aspects was to supply grounding, strength & stability, in that he was the ultimate musical minimalist. He loved & had us listening to aaaaallll kiiiinds of music from as long as I can remember ( & before ) but I don’t ever remember hearing him sing or even hum a complete phrase. But what he would do was hum a single note or 2, 3 at most, with his deep comforting melodious voice and have a whole song going on in his head riding on that note I suppose.

The youngest of 7. My brothers and I used to “doo wop” on the front porch and on the staircase in the hallway of our building where the acoustics were so very cool Monday through Saturday, and “Nearer My God to Thee” all day Sundays. If it was noisy we dug it! If it had a groove, we dug it more! If it had a groove & could be harmonized, we dug it more than Mamma’s lemonade with lots of ice on a hot summer’s day!! I’m sure we had to be the most musically eclectic poor kids in Savannah, Ga. We listened to & tried to emulate everything from John Coltrane- “A love Supreme”, to Three Dog Night – “Mamma told me not to come” ! We constantly channeled the Eagles, the Temptations, the Four Tops, Marvin Gaye, Isaac Hayes & Stevie Wonder (sometimes all at the same time). Then one day we got a Guitar and the place went wild!!!! Then we got a piano & that was all she wrote!!!!! Creative pandemonium
ensued!!!! The music was on!!!!!!

MINISTRY OF MUSIC

When I first got saved I didn’t use my musical gift at church for almost a year. I listened! I studied! I prayed! This (I believe) was a good thing for me. I have seen talented people rush into performing in church without first receiving a foundation in the Word and spiritual growth. Their gift works well but their life is a mess, not realizing that we have to recieve before we have anything substantive to give. Once I really understood that every gift that I was given by God was to be dedicated back to HIM then I could use it for HIM, then I hit the ground running!!!!

PSALMIST MINISTRY

Serving as Chief Psalmist / Minister of Music for Pentecostal Miracle Deliverance Center is one of the most rewarding undertakings of my life. It falls in line right after marriage to my awesome wife Priscilla & raising my 2 wonderful children, Nia, & Gary Jr. I had been writing & performing music for the majority of my life, with my brothers, in High School, in College, long before I ever seriously considered accepting Christ or considered being a part of a Sanctified Church. But once the proper introductions were made, everything changed. By proper introductions I mean that my eldest brother, my Mom, & my 3rd eldest brother had already become a part of Miracle of Deliverance and introduced me to the Ministry, which introduced me to the Leader of that Ministry – Prophetess Idell Cheever. Her teaching, especially in the Bible School setting, introduced me to a level of wisdom, depth, commitment, & close relationship with the Lord that I never thought humanly possible, & the Church services were so energetic, & unpredictable. During the services Dr. Cheever would teach on a subject and the Minister of Music would often spontaneously create a song that supported the message. That got my attention. After some time of just attending services, listening , studying, praying, & applying
what I was learning to my daily life, I began to assist the Minister of Music as much as I could. Which was not a lot, in that, this type of music was very new to me. I always equated Gospel to either hymns, spirituals, quartet style, or the semi-pop style that you would hear on the radio. The music that I was hearing at church was none of the above.

The praise music was extremely loud & fast with repetitive choruses instead of verses & choruses & usually sung in key signatures that I was not used to playing. The chord patterns , even of the choir songs, were different types of patterns than I was familiar with with my jazz, blues, broadway, folk, & classical points of reference. I had no comfort zone whatsoever!! So when the Minister of Music quit one day, I was in a panic!

Then after months of prayer, practice & trail & error, I began to feel more confident about what I was doing; but not until I stopped trying to imitate the previous Minister of Music and allowed myself artistically to be myself. My father told me when i was very young (concerning work ethic) that “ability will get your foot in the door, but reliability will earn you a key to that door & many other doors”. So I started being the first person to arrive at Church and the last to leave, serving musically and in any way that I could, &
still try to continue in that vein to this day.

Gary Swindell joins Jefferson Ross, Stan Ray, Roy Swindelle & Jamison Murphy IN THE ROUND this Sunday in the Cha Bella Courtyard.

Show starts at 6PM

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