Odessa artists up for top Gospel Music Award - Odessa American: Music

Odessa artists up for top Gospel Music Award

BY JARED WILSON jwilson@oaoa.com | Posted: Saturday, August 23, 2014 10:00 am

Local artist Danny Rivera and Fred Stallcup have come a long way from the venues of Odessa and are now up for the Gospel Music Association’s top honor.

The Dove Awards are given out to gospel bands from around the entire world and now Sweetwater Rain, Rivera and Stallcup’s band, will stand among them.

The nominations were announced Aug. 13 at Lipscomb University in Nashville, Tenn., where the awards show will be held Oct. 7.

The Gospel Music Association awards show covers the broad range of Christian music with categories ranging from Southern gospel, rap/hip-hop, rock, pop and inspirational.

Sweetwater Rain has been nominated for their song “Pray for Me” in the category of Country Song of the Year. The song talks about the power of prayer and how it can change one’s perspective on life.

Although both Stallcup and Rivera have been playing music for many years, when they first heard “Pray for Me” they knew there was something special in the works. “Pray for Me,” which was written by Rob Crosby and Allen Shamblin, and preformed by Sweetwater Rain, has taken the genre by storm reaching No. 1 on the Power Source Inspirational Country Chart in February.

“Early on when we first heard it at a pitch meeting we knew it was different,” Rivera said. “It moved us and it is something that really struck a chord with us.”

The song depicts two sides of life, one about being down on his luck the other about him being self-righteous and coming to the realization that perhaps he is the real sinner. The song revolves around the theme of judgment and understanding.

“You know each of us is broken somewhere deep inside and we’re really not that different if you strip away the pride and we’ve all got our struggles and chains that we can’t break and you’ll never know the difference one simple prayer might make,” the song reads.

Stallcup said the song has made a major impact on the band, but also to the audiences and in the music rankings.

Stallcup said he can see the impact of the song on the audience’s faces that are in the crowd.

“When we play that song, you see it in people’s faces,” Stallcup said. “By the end of it I can pick out someone who has tears in their eyes. It touches them deeply. Someone will come up to us afterward and say why “Pray for Me” touched them and a lot of people can relate to it. It’s very powerful and we are so lucky it came our way and that I had the chance to help produce it.”

Rivera, who moved to Odessa about 12 years ago, began playing in Odessa with Sweetwater Rain at Graham Central Station where he met Stallcup, a Permian High School graduate, and brought him aboard. The group, is country, but they are glad to be recognized by the gospel genre.

 “It has been a lot of fun and a lot of practice,” said Rivera. “We lived together and we would wake up to practice every day and then go to the clubs and play. Now we show up at a venue and there are 15,000 people in the audience so it is a lot different but the hard work is paying off and we are really appreciative of that.”

Now the band will travel to Nashville hoping to take home the award. For Rivera and Stallcup, the nomination alone is a dream come true giving validation to their years of hard work.

“It is amazing all of the things we have gotten to see and do, all the great place and people we have met and it is all because we followed our dreams,” Rivera said. “Not a lot of people can say they followed dreams. You just have to lay your heart out there every time you go to work and get on that stage.”

Even though the band is climbing the music charts, Rivera and Stallcup said this is just the beginning and that fans can expect a lot of big news in the coming weeks.

To see the awards show live log onto www.tbn.org at 6:30 p.m. Oct. 7.