Grammy-nominated, two-time Dove Award-winning Producer of the Year, Ian Eskelin, discovers a gem in the City of Pearls, Hyderabad, India. Amidst a population of over 1.25 billion people in India, seven-plus million in the city of Hyderabad alone, Eskelin stepped into Pearl City Church earlier this year and found a vibrant worship team leading thousands in praise to their Creator, all in English. Signing Pearl City Worship to Radiate Music, Eskelin announces that the group's first international album, We Won't Be Silent, is set to releaseMarch 18, 2016 with The Fuel Music distribution.
We are so honored to catch up with Pearl City Worship's Allen Ganta for this exclusive interview.
Hallels: It's not too often we hear of a worship album coming out of India! So thank you for this powerful worship album that you are releasing, "We Won't Be Silent." Let's start with India, is the Gospel growing in the churches in India now?
The Church in India today is nothing like what you would have heard or seen before. With a new India rising up, a different kind of Indian Christianity is rising up with it. A church that is vibrant, bold and relentless. India's church has grown and is getting larger. In this huge and very diverse country, it's difficult to get accurate statistics regarding religion, but the percentage of Christians has increased substantially from 2.5% a decade ago to about 5.8% today. That represents a huge increase in the growth rate. Something is happening, God is moving!
However, India's Christians live among one billion Hindus. Compared to the other faiths nationwide Christianity is still a smaller percentage. There is so much more to be done, so many people need to hear and experience the transforming message of the Gospel.
Gospel music in Indian churches, however, is at a very nascent stage. Indian urban churches have predominantly been taking cues from the Hillsongs, Matt Redmans and Chris Tomlins of the world. Of late churches in India are using songs as a medium to express their voice and have started writing their own music. At Pearl City, we are aiming to bring out the song of the land to all the people in India and to others around the world.
Hallels: I read on your website that Pearl City Church started with 30 people. How big is it now? What were some of the factors that caused the church to grow?
Currently, Pearl City Church is a 1500-member congregation with 4 services across 2 campuses every Sunday. Some of the factors that caused the church to grow are:
- a culture of openness and acceptance towards the younger generation, something that they don't find at a lot of the orthodox churches in town.
- an inspirational leader in Pastor Scott, who has sown generously into the kingdom of God in India.
- being relevant and engaging culture. In this ever-changing and ever evolving culture, we want to reach people for Christ. Our methods may be different, but the message, "the Word," never changes.
Hallels: As a church worship team, have you been writing your own music for a long time? Have you released some albums in your own Indian languages?
As a church worship team, 'We Wont be Silent' is out first project for both writing and recording songs. Some of us on the team have been writing music as a band called Sounds of the Nations for the past 8 years and have 3 albums, which have all have been in local languages Hindi and Telugu.
Hallels: How did you get to connect with producer Ian Eskelin and got to work with Radiate Music?
Ian visited India along with Chris August during his tour. As part of this tour, they came to Pearl City Church and we got connected. Over the past two years, the relationship has grown with Ian visiting multiple times, conducting song-writing workshops, teaching at our worship school, iExcel, and with me visiting Nashville to write and record.
Hallels: As for the songs on this new record, did you get to co-write with some of writers from the US? Who were some of the people you have worked with for this new record?
The majority of the songs were co-written by Ian and I. There were a few writers from the US, like Tony Wood, Jeremiah Carlson from the band 'Neverclaim' and Josh Klinkenburg from NZ.
Hallels: How do you hope this new album "We Won't Be Silent" will be used by God to encourage the church globally?
When we think of worship songs that have a global impact, we normally think of them coming from Hillsong, Passion, Etc. But the truth is God used a shepherd boy from a small Middle East village to write the most amazing worship songs of all time.
This album carries the very personal sound of our church, but the beauty of God's kingdom is that the story and sound of one nation can encourage any other. We pray and hope that the songs from this album can be made their own by churches across various countries. A recurrent theme in the songs is one of revival and the church not staying silent - we believe that in every community there are churches wanting to be heard and desperate to make a difference in their land. We Won't Be Silent is a call out to all such churches that now is this time.
We also hope this album will awaken and encourage the Church in America and world-wide to support and join our mission in reaching out to the nation of India.
Hallels: For our readers who would like to find out more about you and your music, where can they go?