Grand Symphony, the Difference Media debut from GRAMMY®-nominated, Dove Award-winning worship leader and recording artist Ricardo Sanchez, is now available. Produced by Sanchez, along with multi GRAMMY®-winning worship leader Israel Houghton and Mark Townsend, the 12-song project is Sanchez's most pop-oriented release to date.
A showcase of international influences, highlights of Grand Symphony include the electronically-pulsing "Halle, Halle," penned by Sanchez and Houghton; "Take Over," an acoustic guitar-driven message of surrender and gratitude; the bilingual declaration of praise, "Por Cristo"; and "Love The Name," featuring acclaimed singer/songwriter Brian Courtney Wilson, among other selections.
Hallels: Having being raised as a Roman Catholic, how did you come to know Jesus personally?
I did grow up Catholic. My family, as life got busy, stopped going to mass every Sunday and would only attend on Christmas and Easter. Even as a young boy, probably through middle school, I would walk to mass on Sundays because I just felt God when I would go and had a heart sensitive to the things of God. It wasn't until my senior summer, however, that some friends invited me to a Young Life camp in the Sierra Mountains. During that camp, the leaders made an invitation to accept Christ and I did.
Hallels: How did you sense God's calling to sing for him?
Really it was progressive. I grew up singing with my brothers and sisters and my sister taught me to play guitar. We played Mariachi music and had a band, "Los Hermanitos Sanchez." In my Young Life group there was a need for someone to help lead worship and I started there. More and more opportunities began to open up and as I began to seize them, God opened more doors. There were several people early on that confirmed God's calling on my life and helped cultivate that gift.
Hallels: Congratulations on the release of your new album "Grand Symphony." I believe this is your first studio recording as opposed to your live records. How is the making of this album different from your other recordings?
Thank you. Yes, this is the first studio record. For me, the studio recording is more difficult because you can constantly go in and add or delete. The more you listen, the more you hear things and the opportunity is always there to change something or add something. In that sense, it makes it very difficult because you have the opportunity to never be satisfied. As a worship leader, I'm slanted to live worship projects which capture the essence of the night and the atmosphere created during worship. This process was fun for me and it challenged me as a musician in new ways. There was definitely that live satisfaction that came after the album release concert, after seeing and watching the crowd experience music they had never heard and responding in such a positive way.
Hallels: What's the significance of calling the album "Grand Symphony"?
I was sitting in my office one day just spending time with God and the lyric "Life's majors and minors are subtle reminders that we are a part of the plan, a part of the Grand Symphony" came to me as I was worshipping. I really felt the presence of God in the message of "purpose" for this generation and time in which we live. As the body of Christ, it doesn't matter what your vocation is, whether you are a stay-at-home mom or a pilot or a doctor, you are a part of the plan, you're a part of this Grand Symphony. Interestingly enough, as I began to study and look at how a symphony operates, I learned that each musician can only see their OWN sheet music, their own score. For example, the cello players only see the cello notes, the violin players only see the violin notes, and so forth. It is the conductor-or the maestro, which means master-that sees everyone's notes and directs the music where it's going. In the symphony of life, you only have your own score in front of you and as you keep your eyes on the Master, He is leading and directing a beautiful symphony.
Hallels: On this album you've got to work with Israel Houghton. How did you get to know him?
Israel and I have known each other for nearly 20 years and he is a dear friend. We were roommates early on and worked at the same churches a few times throughout the years. He's a talented and well-respected worship leader, but he is also a trusted friend.
Hallels: What do you think Israel brings to the album that you really appreciate?
Israel has such a gift of creative insight. His instincts are incredible. He co-wrote a handful of the songs on Grand Symphony with me and it's easy writing with him since we've known each other for so long. I jokingly refer to him as the "VAMP-ire" because he writes the most incredible vamps that really can make or break a song. Israel is, by far, one of the most talented people I know.
Hallels: I believe you did write some of the songs on the new album. Does songwriting come easy for you? Which song was the most challenging to write off the album?
Yes, I either wrote or co-wrote all of the songs on Grand Symphony. I would say "Hope is Here" was the most challenging to write. We had the idea of what we wanted to communicate, but getting it to come together took some work. The producer, Mark Townsend, was incredibly talented and really helped shape the sound.
Hallels: Your title cut "Grand Symphony" speaks about how each of us has a role or a part in telling God's story. How can one go about in discovering his or her role in God's purposes and design?
I think there are a lot of people who can easily lose their way. Grand Symphony speaks to the purpose we have and that we are all a part of the plan. We are all needed and no one is more important than another. The verse in 1 Corinthians 12:27 says, "All of you together are Christ's body, and each of you is a part of it." My last project was titled "It's Not Over," and it was released right as we had learned that my middle son, Josiah, was given a 1% chance to live after a diving accident in a friend's swimming pool and was life-flighted to a children's hospital (He is now fully recovered.). Life can throw you curve balls, but keeping our eye on the Master Conductor and allowing Him to orchestrate the "lulls and crescendos" in all we do is the purpose of this song and the message of Grand Symphony.