The Whole Enchilada
This isn’t a bio. We want you to know our story and how our music is really a way of sharing our lives with you. If you would like a bio for promotional purposes we’ve got that here.
If you have a few minutes, we’d love for you to read this and listen to some of our songs along the way. You don’t even have to do it in one day. Bookmark it and come back as you have time if you need to. Pretty sure we aren’t well known enough to have a Wiki-page, so this is it. If it seems to you like Matt wrote this in 3rd person, you nailed it!
Joanna and Matt fell in love on the beaches of Antigua in the Caribbean. They didn’t meet on a cruise or at a resort there – they were volunteer youth counselors on a mission trip with our church youth group. Matt naturally thought that Joanna was a hot Godly woman, but he still doesn’t quite understand why Joanna fell for him on this trip. It may have been that he looked incredibly attractive covered in a pasty white film of SPF 90 sunscreen, or perhaps it was the irresistible smell of insect repellant that he doused himself in continually after receiving 100’s of mosquito bites the first evening they were there, or maybe it was the sound of island children screaming through Vacation Bible School mornings. Since it probably wasn’t any of that, we can only assume that it was music that brought them together, and God’s grace that has kept them together.
Almost immediately after returning from the trip they began to date. (They might’ve started dating on the trip, but mission trip flings were not allowed). One night, Matt noticed this small-person-sized-instrument in a gig bag in Joanna’s apartment and asked her if it was a cello. After a few hem haws she told him it was, but then told him she didn’t really play it anymore. She went on to explain that she had put it away because she was tired of the anxiety she felt from playing it in front of professors and teachers, or just people in general. She began playing when she was 8, but had put it in a corner and left it there for about 2 years! Since Matt knew Joanna loved singing pop music and modern worship music, he asked her to try playing those styles with her cello too. He reasoned this because in pop music she could play around on like four notes and it would just sound awesome (case in point-Wonderwall). When she picked it up again her cello and his guitar ended up falling in love and they began double dating with them! In reality, this was a special process. God began showing her how to play for Him and not for people’s approval. It was a really cool thing to see happen-you should have been there.
Life and Discography
Sweet Communion (2003)
After dating for 5 months Matt proposed while having an asthma attack after climbing 6 flights of stairs to her mother’s condo door. Joanna took pity on him and said yes. Six months later they married making a commitment to go all out in love for one another, but within six more months they were literally about to call it quits. Seriously. It turns out that they had been raised on different planets and their different customs and ways of responding to each other resulted in perpetual strife and anger. Ironically none of these traits were noticed in the eleven months prior to their Holy Matrimony. One night after an incredible exchange of words they begrudgingly decided that it might be a good idea to pray. In the midst of that prayer the Holy Spirit reminded them of the words of a song Matt wrote in the months leading up to their wedding, More Than Conquerors. “Battle lines of pride will separate our hearts, but since we know we aren’t the enemy we’ve overcome the hardest part.” They began to realize that the point of marriage was not about loving a “soul mate,” but about learning to love the person you married in the way that Jesus loved them-unconditionally. They started to recognize that the very things Satan wanted to use to tear them apart were the very things that God would use to bring them together through forgiveness, reconciliation, and understanding. Now, please know that they still really stink at remembering this sometimes but through the peaks and valleys along the way they’ve been learning what it means to love one another.
A couple of years later Matt had some songs that he had written and wanted them to record a CD. They recorded their first album Sweet Communion with a worship leader friend, Michael Higdon, and some talented musician friends. That album was really special to them because everyone involved was relatively new to recording, and yet they still enjoy the result of that project to this day. The Sweet Communion album helped them secure an opportunity to lead worship at an M-Fuge camp in Jacksonville, FL. They were able to see a lot of teenagers lives changed during that summer, made lasting staff friendships, and had a lot of doors opened to do return worship events with the church groups that visited that summer. How Good It Is, written by Matt, became an unofficial theme song for the Jacksonville location’s mission/serving focused camp that summer, and the song Your Love, sung by Joanna and written by Matt, was included on the national camp compilation album-Befriended.
Unless the Lord (2005)
After getting an opportunity to open a Louisville tour date for Selah, Matt’s former college roommate, Todd Smith (a member the group), reconnected them with a couple more college friend’s – Selah’s co-producer and engineer Jason Kyle and Selah group member Allan Hall to record their second album. Before this album was recorded, Matt and Joanna returned from their second summer of leading worship with M-Fuge in West Palm Beach, FL and learned that Joanna’s mother Genny was declining quickly in her battle with cancer. Her mom and older brother Dan who had Downs Syndrome moved in with them. Immediately they went from being a married couple to having a full house, learning how to be caretakers. This time period was very difficult, but it was also very sacred and full of blessing. People don’t always have enough time to say goodbye well. On the eve of New Year’s Eve 2004 Genny passed away. A couple of days later we learned that Joanna’s brother Dan had an aggressive form of cancer and he later passed away almost a month to the day of his mom’s passing. This was the first time they had ever experienced death in such an up close and personal way. Matt wrote the song, You Showed Me God’s Love as a tribute to their friends that supported them and comforted them during that time. After their passing Unless the Lord was recorded with Jason Kyle and released in 2005 featuring the songs Unless the Lord Builds the House-written Rich Fyhr (aka. the 5th Black), Believe, sung by Joanna-written by Matt and Rich, and You Showed Me God’s Love. This album was shaped by the time they spent with Joanna’s mom and brother, but is remarkably upbeat with added moments of reflection. After making Unless the Lord they led their final summer camp for Crossings at Jonathan Creek in Western, KY. Shortly after this their friend Rich connected them with Byron Spradlin, the President of Artists in Christian Testimony Intl., and they began Sweet Communion Music – a ministry dept. formed under A.C.T. Intl.’s guidance and non-profit covering.
Antiques Part 1 (2010)
In 2006, Matt became the worship pastor at The Bridge Community a new church startup in Elizabethtown, and they had their first child Myra. During his time as worship leader at the Bridge, Matt had the opportunity to help develop singers and musicians as the church grew, and he and Joanna developed a different understanding of poverty and how much need their was in the community they lived in. Their small group volunteered to do devotion one night at the Juvenile Detention Center in their area, and that one night led to a devotion ministry team for that facility that they are a part of to this day. Matt continued in this position for 7 years while he and Joanna continued their worship and concert ministry. In 2010, they recorded Antiques Part 1 in their home studio. Antiques Part 1 is an EP of hymn arrangements along with a couple of original hymn-like songs, The Grace Parade-co-written by Matt and James Tealy and Raging River-co-written by Matt and Kami Mueller.
After having amazing experiences with two weeklong youth camps that they led over the summer of 2012, they made the decision for Matt to step out of his church position and re-boot their ministry with A.C.T.. When they did this they made a decision to redefine their ministry and place an emphasis on outreach and missions in addition to church events. Shortly after this they went on a family mission trip to Haiti unaware that a 4th family member, Cara, was with them! This was a miracle to them, because they had all but given up on having another child because of the 4 miscarriages they experienced after having Myra. They gave Cara the middle name Jubilee after the Jewish 7 year celebration where all debts were canceled. Cara came 7 years after her big sister! After their Haiti trip they established an ongoing relationship with the Baptist Haiti Mission by selling Mountain Maid cereal box jewelry and crafts at events to help fund the work project that were started to provide employment to women in churches connected to the Baptist Haiti Mission in Fermathe Haiti.
In 2013, Joanna joined her friend Lyndsay Taylor to record the piano/cello vocal duet album Beloved featuring Lyndsay’s arrangement of It Is Well With My Soul and Lyndsay’s original song Love So Sure. Beloved was recorded and co-produced by Matt in their home studio.
Recent Works (2015 to present)
In 2015, Matt and Joanna released a video of Brokenness Aside, an All Son’s and Daughter’s cover. Shortly after this release Joanna lost her father Roger and her stepmother Betty in a car accident. At the end of a year marked by this accident they made a video for their original song, You Have Prepared a Place-written by Matt. They are currently working on a string of singles to release online in 2016 and have plans to arrange a Cello hymns album for Joanna.
One More Thing (Well Maybe a Couple More)
(The third person narrative is getting tiresome, so back to first person now!)
We’ve shared our story with you because we hope our life and songs connect with you in a way that gives you a hope and desire for you to know Jesus as your Savior and for you to go all out in love for the world because of what He’s done for us. We believe humanity is too broken to be made right with God or for people to earn God’s favor without the forgiveness that comes through a trusting faith in His Son Jesus’ sacrifice on the cross. From our experience we believe life is too uncertain to live it without the eternal hope Jesus’ resurrection offers, and without purpose when we aren’t living to please God by seeking to follow His will for our lives.
To close we’ll share a couple more songs, and thank you for reading our story!