Posted by: calloftheandes | May 12, 2011

HCJB Global Musicians Produce Worship Songs for Believers in Myanmar

Recorded in Singapore, Houston and Phoenix, a dozen worship songs are aimed at an audience of young Christians in the isolated Asian country of Myanmar (Burma).

This ambitious, trans-continent music project was sparked when HCJB Global’s Ty Stakes, director of the Asia Pacific Region, met a Burmese youth pastor in Singapore and invited him for a visit. “Do you want to do an album?” Stakes asked the man after hearing his songs.

Such projects had materialized between Stakes and musician Michio Ozaki when they worked together at Radio Station HCJB in Quito, Ecuador. Creative ideas were shared just by walking across the hall. However, that was before Stakes moved to Asia and Ozaki left for North America. This newest project became a reality through the cyberspace transport of large audio files.

Stakes provided Ozaki in Houston with the demo audio tracks, which facilitated Ozaki’s writing arrangements for the 12 songs. Then the process of laying down additional tracks began. Ozaki sent back guitar and keyboard tracks as audio files while Stakes supplied bass guitar and drum tracks.

Stakes with vocalists for Burmese and Chin recordings

In Singapore, Stakes recorded vocals by the pastor, his wife and the pastor’s friend, none of whom Ozaki had met other than via Skype calls on the Internet. By the same token, Stakes never set foot into the Phoenix, Ariz., studio where their mutual friend, Bladimir González, did the final mix.

Song titles (translated to English) include You Alone Are Savior, Jesus Speak to Me, Praise Him Forever and Holy Is the Lord. “Are there any Burmese music instruments you’d like to incorporate?” was Ozaki’s question to the pastor. “How do you want your album to sound? What style?” The Burmese pastor’s e-mail response simply stated, “I like Hillsong music.” (Hillsong is a popular Australian worship band.)

Bladimir Gonzalez and Michio Ozaki

“Actually, that was a relief for me because that made it a lot easier,” said Ozaki with a laugh. Other aspects of the project proved challenging. After arranging the compositions, Ozaki laid down keyboard or guitar tracks to be uploaded to a file transfer protocol (ftp) site. Normally a song’s rhythm (drums and bass) goes down first.

Burmese youth pastor with Ty Stakes

Stakes programmed drum tracks on half the songs; González’s son drummed along with tracks provided by Ozaki on the rest of the songs. Demo tracks were a significant step for the Burmese musician, according to Stakes.

“Five of the tracks, he took them and sent them to his friends in Burma,” Stakes recounted, “and they were already spreading through the churches before we ever got half the tracks done … just from the demos. These are songs the Burmese churches will sing, probably nationwide.”

Separate song components were assembled in September as Ozaki and González set about to produce it in Phoenix. “It was the first time I had heard any of the vocals,” Ozaki said. “To finally hear how these songs sounded—it was really exciting!”

“In countries like [Burma] people know each other. The networks of Christians are tight—they’re unified for the most part, and they work together,” Stakes said. “When the pastor gets his album published, distribution will be automatic. It’ll just go like … it’ll be viral!”

File photo of Ozaki conducting concert celebrating the founding of Quito

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