"Sermon In A Song: The Bible Belt Blues Story"
by Paula Vega Vondenstein
(June 2019) With the release of Bible Belt Blues’ second album in five months’ time, husband and wife musical team, Harold and Paula Vega Vondenstein, attempt to do the near impossible: to craft an album that could literally change the direction of Christian music as we know it today. Released on June 1, 2019, “My God, My God,” is destined to become a game changer in the field of Christian music with its full-fledged repentance songs including special effects that can cross over genres, actual invitation prayer songs with belting vocals, and deep theological truths captured into songs where the listener actually gets it, memorizes it, owns it, and lives it.
Bible Belt Blues’ music is both fresh and original with its musical roots distinctly early Mississippi Bentonia blues with a bit of 70’s retro mixed in for good measure. After intensive study of the history of Mississippi’s blues for over two years, Bible Belt Blues was officially created September of 2018 when Paula convinced her musician husband, Harold, to let her craft the lyrics first. Disturbed over a growing number of Christian songs where the lyrics lack depth and where the music is overpowering the lyrics, Paula was eager to make her mark in the field of Christian music while simultaneously making an eternal difference for the Kingdom of God.
Paula crafts the lyrics first which sets the tonality and structure for each song making each one a musical work of art, yet remaining true to their own distinct genre, Bible Belt Blues, which falls under the sub-genre of Gospel Blues. Being led by the Holy Spirit of God, her husband, Harold, crafts the music around the lyrics adding numerous tracks on a looper, creating the illusion of a band which includes his vocals, guitar, “weeping” harmonica, drums, and special effects.
“God has given each of us our own distinct gifts which work together beautifully when crafting songs,” remarks Harold. “We literally craft the songs together, I do the vocals, guitar, harmonica, and everything tech which includes mixing, mastering, and building our website and YouTube Channel: Bible Belt Blues. Paula is the lyricist for all of our songs, my vocal coach, our music producer, mixing editor, and does everything in regards to graphic design, marketing, media, and securing radio airplay. Paula is naturally very outgoing and will talk to anyone. Give her an mp3 boom box and some business cards, and she is a walking talking billboard for our music. I am a bit more reserved. I prayed to God to give me boldness, and He gave me Paula.”
A major door opened up for Bible Belt Blues in early March of 2019 when they were taken into the Bill and Kat Radio’s family with their Gospel Blues Hour Syndicated Program which airs on 30 stations, across 6 genres, and in 4 countries. Bible Belt Blues’ very first album, “I’m Not Ashamed to Be a Christian,” released on Jan. 5, 2019, has already placed twice on the Roots Music Report for the Top 50 Christian Albums (#47 and #26). Six of the songs from this album have received radio airplay, an amazing accomplishment for a very first album. Their much anticipated second album, “My God, My God,” released on June 1, 2019, and has already received radio airplay with two of their songs. Subsequently, their second album has also placed once on the Roots Music Report for the Top 50 Christian Albums (#27) and once at (#8) for Top 50 Mississippi Albums).
Another pivotal door opened up for Bible Belt Blues on June 4, 2019 when they secured the finalist nomination for the 2019 Josie Music Awards as Duo/Band for the Gospel/ Christian/ Inspirational music genre after 23,000+ nominations were submitted across all genres. A 2nd tier finalist nomination came through on June 19th for Bible Belt Blues for Gospel/ Christian/ Inspirational Entertainer of the Year! After calming down from receiving two nominations that only seemed to be a distant dream, Paula and Harold are quick to give glory to God, “Only God could have opened that door for us. Harold and I are both humbled and honored.” Looking forward to that big day on September 21, 2019 for the Fifth Annual Josie Music Awards at the Dollywood Theatre in Pigeon Forge, Tennessee, Paula and Harold stay confident in securing that coveted award. Meanwhile Bible Belt Blues is focusing on securing bookings for their music at local churches, colleges, schools, and for special events.
Paula and Harold Vega Vondenstein take their calling as Christian musicians seriously, believing that a song can soften a hardened heart to be receptive to the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. It is their heartfelt desire to be used by God in a mighty way and believe that creating Christian songs with bold, biblically sound lyrics can do just that. According to Paula Vega Vondenstein, “It’s the lyrics that make a song Christian; the bolder, the better. Soft and fluffy lyrics do not win souls for Christ.” (BibleBeltBlues.com) https://biblebeltblues.hearnow.com/
All glory and honor goes to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
"A Bold New Music Genre: How It All Began"
by Paula Vega Vondenstein
(January 2019) We are Bible Belt Blues! Original Bentonia blues influenced music with bold biblically sound lyrics. Our mission is to bring the message of hope, repentance, salvation, and revival to the nations through our music.
The journey began two and a half years ago on April 17, 2016 when my husband, Harold created his very first Christian Blues song, “Taking Back the Blues.” My gut told me he was onto something and I was right! Researching the Christian Blues genre I found to my amazement that it was so rare a genre that it wasn’t even listed as a sub-genre of music! Researching even further I discovered that almost everyone who had created Christian Blues abandoned it altogether after only producing one or two songs! But why? Much to my disappointment, my husband, Harold, followed suit along with all the rest! Could it be that they had bought into the lie that blues music was the devil’s music? After all, the story about Robert Johnson selling his soul to the devil at the Crossroads of Hwy 49 and Hwy 61 had been fabricated, I would soon discover after further research. Could it be that churches were not open to allowing this music to be played in their church? Could radio stations not have known what station to play in on since it wasn’t even listed as a sub-genre?
Despite my husband’s decision to abandon the creation of Christian blues music, I proceeded forward full speed ahead with my research. I ordered several books on the history of the blues, purchased early recordings and diligently studied them. I encouraged my husband, Harold, to watch numerous documentaries on the history of the blues with me and we would also listen to hours of the early Mississippi Delta blues recordings on YouTube. I would hear a certain sound and say to Harold, “Wow! I like that sound! Can we replicate that?” I encouraged my husband to learn the harmonica (which I think is key to preserving the history of the blues) and to my delight, after months of online classes, he has become an excellent player!
Purely by accident, I stumbled upon the early Bentonia blues school of music (Skip James, RL Burnside, and Jimmy “Duck” Holmes, etc) which originated from Bentonia, Mississippi on the outskirts of the Mississippi Delta. Their gritty guitar picking style and hauntingly beautiful minor D and E chords totally mesmerized me. I just knew in my heart of hearts that this sound would lend itself perfectly as the backdrop music for repentance songs that were so lacking in the church these days! I couldn’t contain my excitement upon further research that no one yet that I had discovered was creating Bentonia style Christian blues music! To my utter amazement, we were creating our very own genre of music! This was beyond my wildest imagination! At that very moment Bible Belt Blues was officially born! Thank you, Jesus!
What happened next is so remarkable that there is no other way to explain it except that it was a God thing. A talent I had for lyric writing that had been sitting dormant for over 40 years suddenly blossomed! I somehow persuaded my husband to let me write the lyrics first then have him craft the music around the lyrics. This was something new for him since he had originally crafted the music first then added the lyrics. The lyrics started flowing, bold, biblically sound lyrics like I had never heard before in a church or on Christian radio. I sought to capture deep theological truths that people struggle with understanding and put it in a song where people actually get it. A sermon in a song! The first day I had written three lyrics while he was at work! I was writing repentance songs, invitation songs, prayer songs, revival songs, and closing songs. I even wrote a song to promote celibacy before marriage and another for suicide prevention.
After the creation of the lyrics we would sit up till the wee hours of the morning crafting the music. We always prayed before our recording sessions and invited the Holy Spirit of God to take over. Sometimes the music came out totally different than we had imagined! After we came into agreement on an arrangement for the song, Harold would record several versions of the song and I would choose the best arrangement. Since Harold is quite the computer geek, he mixed down each song and then mastered it. In a seven week period (from Sept. 3rd- Oct. 20th 2018) we had recorded 20 songs!
Our very first album for Bible Belt Blues, “I’m Not Ashamed to Be a Christian” (for which I designed the album cover) includes twelve of these twenty songs and was released on CD Baby for international distribution on Jan. 5, 2019. We are already working on our second album which is scheduled to be released on June 1st, 2019. My husband’s talent as a guitarist, songwriter, singer, and now as a harmonica player has grown tremendously since we married three years ago after having first met on Christian Mingle on Christmas Day of 2014. This is the happiest and most productive time of our lives producing Christian music together as a couple. God has blessed us beyond measure with the birthing of a brand new genre of music, Bible Belt Blues, with bold, biblically sound lyrics that glorify God. All songs were recorded with instruments tuned to the healing frequency of 444Hz (the Key of David). We fervently pray that our Bible Belt Blues music will be a catalyst for revival in America and around the world as it softens the hardened hearts of those who are lost to further build Christ’s Kingdom!
We are humbled and honored to bring this music to today’s generation that so desperately needs God in their lives! All glory and honor go to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.
"How Our Journey Began"
by Paula Vega Vondenstein
(March 2019) Harold and Paula officially met on Christmas Day of 2014 when Harold responded to Paula’s online profile on Christian Mingle. Paula knew exactly what she was looking for and wrote a very tight profile asking for a Christian musician and someone who would not set limits on what God could accomplish through him. Harold responded and the rest is history.
During the past four years which included a whirlwind romance and a quaint church wedding 10 months later, Paula and Harold set out to create their Gateway To Glory YouTube Channel which houses Paula’s bible verse narrations set to motion video along with Harold’s music he had created and recorded before they met and married. Harold also created a YouTube Channel: My Daily Walk in Deliverance.
But nothing could compare with the magnitude of the journey that God now has them on with the creation of their very own music genre, Bible Belt Blues, with original Bentonia blues influenced music with bold, biblically sound lyrics, like nothing Paula had ever heard before in church or on Christian radio. Repentance songs, Invitation songs, Prayer songs, Closing songs, and Church Revival songs. All with the hauntingly beautiful D and E minor chords and gritty guitar picking sounds of the early Mississippi Bentonia blues style.
Some songs even include harmonica solos. In “The Glory Belongs To You, Lord” Harold made the harmonica cry. All are recorded in the 444 Hz healing frequency (the key of David.)
Embark with us on our journey as you immerse yourself in our very first album, “I’m Not Ashamed To Be A Christian.” We pray that our music touches your heart and stirs your soul to the things of God and that you come back wanting more. Our second album is scheduled to be released on June 1, 2019. All glory and honor goes to our Lord and Savior, Jesus Christ.