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The Doxa phenomenon

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Praise & Worship music becoming a genre of its own

Praise & Worship music is the hottest movement in the Christian music industry, according to an article in the November 1999 Contemporary Christian Magazine. P&W music is no longer the domain of singers like Steve Green. It has become a popular genre of many Christian rock/punk groups (Sonicflood, Three Strand, The Insyderz). What makes P&W music so popular is that it is dynamic. It’s dynamic because it shows where an artist’s relationship with God is at. P&W music is genuine; it can’t be rehearsed or hyped up. What you see is what you get. And that has rekindled the old debate within the contemporary Christian music industry: Is it the artist or God who is the focus?

The Doxa Band is a P&W team from Abbotsford, B.C. They first got together in 1996 to lead Sunday evening worship services in South Abbotsford MB Church, and over time, became popular. All along, leader Vijay Manuel stressed Doxa was about Jesus and the band. For a number of reasons, Manuel felt it was time to end Doxa. (The Oct. 8, 1999 MB Herald featured an interview with Manuel)

The music of the Doxa Band is original. Most of the songs are composed by Manuel himself, showing that his talent is phenomenal. Three-albums-old, the Doxa Band has over 34 songs in its repertoire. Although Doxa is no more, the music is still available from their website (www.doxaband.com).

One by one (Shikina Publishing, 1997), recorded over a period of three days in the South Abbotsford Church, highlights the talents of the members of group. It shows that this band means business. This is very much a team effort. This is music written with a heart for God. It is Doxa well-packaged. For those who enjoy worship music with a punch, “Rock the foundation” and “Streets (the love of Jesus)” truly rock. However, for those who enjoy easy-on-the-eardrums music, “Just the way I am” is a catchy song about Jesus loving us for who we are: “Just the way I am/You have chosen me/What a love you’ve shown/By erasing debts for free.” As expected with most P&W music, the lyrics are simple, but cut to the heart.

A strength of the Doxa Band is that they are not a one-song wonder. They have diversity and staying-power. From the beginning, they show that they are serious about their music, and can rival many current P&W bands on the market.

With Spiritflow (Shikina Publishing, 1998) the production is further refined. There is more complicated guitar works on such songs as “My Belief” and “Raise the Flag”. Meanwhile, songs such as “Spiritflow”, “Life Changing Force” and “To Live” would enhance many contemporary worship services. Manuel’s voice is comparable to John Michael Talbot’s in its softness, and the background vocals add richness to his sometimes dull voice. This group has talent, and it is no wonder they are appreciated.

That appreciation is evident on All for You (Shikina Publishing, 1999). This is not entertainment; this is an experience. If you’ve never heard the Doxa Band perform live but wanted to, this is the album for you. Doxa is emotion. Maturity shows in how well the harmonies blend together on this album. For a live album, things run smoothly, a credit to the band’s synchronization and to the post-production crew as well.

Each album includes the words to the music so that you can follow along, another indication that Doxa is more than performance. The music is addictive. I often caught myself singing along. One may do well, however, to mix ‘it up with other music. Still, Doxa is powerful.

For all of Doxa’s achievements, one wonders why it had to end. It could have continued for several more years. But Manuel said that Doxa was not about being successful, but about worshipping God. Perhaps Doxa had to end because it had reached its pinnacle. Maybe Manuel knew that one can only take P&W music to a certain point before it loses its vitality.

In any case, Doxa was a place to experience God, P&W music supporters say this kind of music is for those wanting to experience God but are suspicious of polished church programs and religiosity. These people are looking for a true spiritual experience, and will believe in a band that is sincere in its worship of God.

I suspect this was the case with Doxa. People were led to God through the music because of the band’s dedication to God, not its commitment to the stage, Though we may never hear the band perform live again, my guess is we haven’t heard the last of its members, especially Manuel. Sensing their dedication to God and feeling the emotion in their music, makes me want more. Bravo to the Doxa Band. They did a good thing by leading others into worship of God. Long live Doxa!

—Peter J. Woelk

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