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Christian Youth Group releases first music CD


By La Prensa Staff


January 1, 2020: A Toledo-based Latino Christian musical group has released a first-ever CD, hoping to find success in the music of their faith.


Anhelo first released Para Adorarte Vivo Yo (To Worship You I Live) last June. The CD cover shows eight singers and musicians from group pictured along the Maumee River with Toledo in the background. The self-funded recording resulted in 1,000 copies and is gaining some steam locally, as the group has been requested to perform at other churches.


 “I’m very proud of them. They have worked hard. Their commitment to the group has been awesome and their commitment to God is number one,” said Eva Zepeda, musical director and lead singer. “Everyone works together as a team. I think everyone has done their part to make this group form and become established and we see it growing in the future as a lot more.”


Anhelo’s members range in age from 15 to 40, but most are under 25 years old, with three main singers and five musicians backing them. The bilingual CD features mainly contemporary Christian music, but their performances are high-energy praise sessions that draw nearly everyone out of their seats to dance. The group’s home church is the First Spanish Church of God, 1331 East Broadway in East Toledo.


“They’re definitely seeing our commitment in our group is strong, and our dedication,” said Ms. Zepeda during a La Prensa interview at the church. “They’re excited about what we’re doing and they know we have a lot of really cool ideas and projects coming up in the near future.”


Aylin Dominguez, 18, is one of the group’s singers. She attends the University of Toledo, majoring in social work after graduating from Toledo Early College High School last June. She also works as a youth mentor at the Boys and Girls Clubs in the Old South End.


“I’m really excited, because I understand that this is not just because of us. God is using us and opening doors for us to get more known,” said Ms. Dominguez. “Not because we want to have that audience or want to have that attention—God is using us as instruments so we can speak to people through our music and be encouragement.”


Anhelo experienced a bit of divine intervention after forming a year ago. A Texas-based music producer heard about the group through a church member and informed them he would be in the Toledo area and wanted to help them with their first CD to expand their opportunities.


“It had a great impact on the group,” explained Ms. Zepeda, stating the regular praise and worship at the church expanded outward beyond its walls. “It made us feel like this was an opportunity that could open up to greater opportunities. That was a direction it was going and we knew it was a door opening up for us. It was very exciting.”


“Over the years, I’ve grown to realize that without my faith, I wouldn’t be who I am and it defines me in a way,” said Ms. Dominguez, who believes her spiritual gift is as a communicator. “One of my talents of ministry is singing. I also feel it is through teaching, being encouragement to others.”


Each member chipped in financially to make the CD, seeing it as a chance to “see our mission to get our music out to bless other people and we were willing to take that risk,” according to Ms. Zepeda. The group’s music also is available on iTunes and Spotify as well.


“We’ve even blended some songs together to make it more our own and used the talent of the group to make it more unique,” said Ms. Zepeda, before leaving for Guatemala to spend the holidays with her husband’s family. “We have some in the group trying to now write the music and we’ll see what happens.”


“Thrilled and expectant. Not only am I expecting this to touch someone else, but I’m expecting this to open more doors for us to have more opportunities to go and speak to other people through our music and for God to move within us,” said Ms. Dominguez. “I am hopeful and willing as well, willing to let God use us and willing to let whatever the CD has for people to keep growing and growing.”


Ms. Dominguez, in particular, gets great satisfaction out of reaching the unchurched, people who can use a positive message in their lives. She also likes to reach others who may have a particular image of the traditional church with the group’s different approach to Christian music.


“I think what we do is very different because a lot of people think church and music is boring, everyone just claps and no one moves,” she said. “Sometimes people even think you have to clap a certain way, because people who are Christian, they can’t dance and can’t move because that’s just not right. The way we present worship is to worship through our whole body. I think that attracts people because maybe they think Christianity isn’t what we thought it is, isn’t what it’s perceived to be from a religious aspect.”


“I think the young people realize that this could go further and reach out to other young people that are maybe in situations where they need direction,” said Ms. Zepeda. “I think our album is not only geared toward the different backgrounds of Hispanics in our group and reaching out to the Hispanic population, but can reach out to the youth, especially. Even though we’re a mix of ages, a mix of backgrounds, we feel that unity together.”


There are even a mix of cultural backgrounds within the Latino members of Anhelo—Mexican, Puerto Rican, Nicaraguan, and Guatemalan. According to Ms. Zepeda, that’s a demonstration of their ethnic pride, language, and culture—as well as diversity. Each member brings a slightly different flavor to the music chosen.


“I think it expands the audience as well, because a lot of people see that it comes from a lot of different places, yet we work together,” said Ms. Zepeda. “At our performances, there is a lot of dancing, a lot of excitement. The kids are out there on the floor. Older people are out there, loving the music, clapping or jumping.”


“At the end of the day, I am a worshiper. I’m not an entertainer. I am a worshiper. So if I’m not giving it my all, then what’s the point?” asked Ms. Dominguez when discussing the high energy she brings to a performance. “I try to clear my mind no matter what kind of day I’m having, focus on what my role is in the worship team and make sure I’m giving my all—and that depends on how fast the song is, whether I’m jumping, raising my hands, or spinning.”


Individual members of the group put potential band names on slips of paper. Ms. Zepeda suggested Anhelo because the background meaning involves “desire.”


“This is a desire of each one of us to do more for God, to show our light, to make a difference,” she said. “Desire just stuck out.”


The desire of Ms. Dominguez is very evident in the way her eyes lit up when asked how the group moves her spiritual being. She admitted to breaking down and crying during performances when she sees others react in a positive way to Anhelo’s music and message. She particularly gains satisfaction when people admit the music brought them back on track in their faith journey.


“I feel I’m God’s vessel in ministry, so we’re speaking out to people as someone they can relate to. A lot of people believe religious people, in truly being dedicated to God, you have to be older, you have to be a grown adult, you have to be over your teenage years and that’s not true,” said Ms. Dominguez. “I just turned 18. I’m not saying I’m better than anyone, but I feel like I’m very dedicated to God compared to other youth because they believe this lie. They’re depriving themselves of having a relationship with God because they’re not an adult. That’s not true.”


So, what will the New Year and 2020 bring for Anhelo?


“We want to go to the next level, where we get some of our own songs, our own ideas, to putting the song arrangements together,” said Ms. Zepeda. “We’ve had a lot more requests for English music, so I think there may be more bilingual music. We’re thinking festivals in the summer to really open the doors and give people a taste of what our music is like, give them some interest.”


“Our devotion to letting God use us as vessels is speaking to people. That makes me really happy,” said Ms. Dominguez. “I just want to see what God has in store for us. I’m excited to see where those places take us and what we’re going to be doing with the way He is using us. Personally, I love to worship, I love to minister to people, I love music. So, all of those things together make it perfect for me when I’m on the stage. That’s my happy place.”


Editor’s Note:  The group Anheló started from one musician and one singer. Over the span of 4 years, it grew to become a group of 9 members including: Eva Zepeda (vocalist), Aylin (vocalist) and Maylin Dominguez (pianist), Natalie Segovia (acoustic guitar), Valentin Ornelas Jr. (electric guitar) who are all Mexican-American. Hector Jacobo Núñez (drummer) also Mexican, Genesis López (vocalist) who is Nicaraguan/Mexican American, Juan Yax (bass) is Guatemalan, and Gillary Lanzo (acoustic guitar) is Puerto Rican.




Copyright © 1989 to 2020 by [LaPrensa Publications Inc.]. All rights reserved.
Revised: 12/31/19 13:31:05 -0800.




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