For anyone fed up with sound-alike CDs full of soft rock praise songs and worshipful pop ballads sung by wannabe X factor stars, Aradhna may just be the group which reconnect you with Christian worship music.
Pete Hicks (L) and Chris Hale (R) of Aradhna play as part of the Greenbelt Worship pageant
Anyone who has travelled widely, and visited church in other countries cannot fail to have noticed the extraordinary extent to which western culture in the form of music has spread around the globe.
Whether it is a village church in rural Cambodia, a big city gathering in India, an international church in North Africa or a school hall in the West Midlands, most weeks you can find a guy with a guitar or a keyboard, pounding out the latest from Ben Cantelon, or a Matt Redman standard.
And yet that is not to say that the music of the world all sounds the same – it’s just that Christian music has often failed to make the leap from Western culture to embrace more international sounds.
It’s kind of ironic that three white American guys should lead the way in that – but that’s Aradhna for you.
Formed around the nucleus of Chris Hale, Peter Hicks and Travis McAfee - Aradhna (a Hindi word meaning ‘Worship’) play a blend of Indian devotional music – mixed with some Western sounds.
The result is enchanting – none too dissimilar in style to the kind of thing you would hear walking through an Indian temple, or Thamel, Kathmandu’s iconic backpacker district.
But the distinct difference is the focus of the lyrics – adoration of ‘Yeshu’ – Jesus.
But the language Aradhna use – while it may sound very natural to the listener, was still hard for the lead singer Chris Hale, who grew up in India and Nepal, to come to terms with at first.
He said: “Now we’re pretty much comfortable in our shoes now to worship Jesus in any culture. Culture is language, language is communication, and every Christian has to go through that journey of realising its about communicating – communicating Jesus it’s about as simple as that.
“But because you grow up with feelings of suspicion against the other – it takes some people a very long time to get over suspicion of the other – people who have the hardest time getting over suspicion of the other are the people who live in very close proximity to the other – and their identity is built on how other they are to the other.
“For me, it was often a more of a difficult thing to get over the lyrical use in our band, I grew up close to that other world, so even though I was initiating the use of those words, I was having a tough time of it.”
Guitarist Peter Hicks added: “If you are talking about people who haven’t been connected to India, haven’t been connected to Hinduism, they take it as a new experience, a new expression of worship, for the most part it’s a new experience of worship, and it opens another door. “
Aradhna have just returned to the USA after a UK tour which included five performances at the Greenbelt festival, their latest album, Sapna (Dream) is available now.
September 10th, 2012 - Posted & Written by Simon Cross