Spotlight on
Gordon Allen Brown,
Music Message Crusader

By Paul Turner

For the purpose of this interview I planned to meet Gordon Allen Brown in the senior pastor's study of Calvary Christian Center in Mt. Washington just southeast of Louisville. I knew he was there when I arrived as I found his black Mercedes in the parking lot in front of the church.

Sure enough, there he sat comfortably behind a pastor's desk as if he belonged there in his well-worn blue jeans and cowboy boots. His T-shirt was an advertisement for radio station WJCR -- one of the short-wave stations he is very much involved with.

With a recent album simply and aptly entitled Gordon Allen Brown, the radio businesses, and his duties as husband and father, Dr. Brown stays busy. By the way, it's Dr. of Divinity and the pastor's study we were in is his.

Unusual? You bet. And the more you find out about G.A. Brown the more unusual he seems.

Speaking with Gordon for just a moment leads one to believe they are speaking with someone from Texas.

"I'm what's called a Kentexan," he replies jokingly in reference to his being Ft. Worth born and Azle (also in Texas) bred "because both Kentucky and Texas are home."

Gordon subsequently moved to the Louisville area in the late Sixties to play bass for a gospel quartet. His early experience with music was accentuated one particular evening when, at the age of thirteen in Azle, he snuck out of the house to play with a dance band at the family center.

In true Texan form, gordon recalls, "And boy when my dad found out about it, it wasn't too good. From that time on I pretty well stayed in gospel music except when I was offered a great sum of money to imitate (Elvis) Presley. I winked at it a while and tried my hand at it a few times and finally realized that it just wasn't my bag.

"I can't just use music purely as entertainment. There has got to be a reason for it. You've got to say something with it. That was instilled in me at a very early age."

Prior to his pastoring Calvary Christian Center and other churches in Kentucky, Texas, and briefly in the Cincinnati area, he traveled early on across the country with Teen Challenge. Since that time his musical journeys have led him extensively around the world.

"I like doing other countries," Gordon states frankly. "It's amazing. You can announce a gospel crusade like in Africa for instance and you have a thousand people, but you can throw a guitar around your neck and have ten thousand. It'll spoil you.

"I love America, but people overseas are hungry. Over there you can go through your whole repertoire and they'll want to hear it again. Go through it again, and they'll want to hear it again. They are hungry for the sound of the music, but they are hungry for the message as well."

"We're still looking at the international scale. There's a whole new world out there. The best illustration I know," Dr. Brown explains, "is when Jesus had the five thousand hungry people sit down in ranks of fifty, he didn't feed the first five rows only to go back and feed those same five rows again and again and again. That's what we do in America, though. We keep feeding those first five rows again and again.

"Here's what's sad. In order to make people take it now, we've got to make it funny or we've got to put puppets or laser lights behind it. We've got to do something different because if we don't, people won't want it. But two-thirds of the world haven't had a good 'first taste.'

"So that's where my heart is. That's why we're vice-president of the WJCR short-wave station and president of the one we're building over in the Grand Turk Islands called Caribbean Christian Radio, which is a fifty-thousand-watt AM station. I really believe that we need to reach beyond that first five rows to those who need to hear the music and its message for the first time. Then you really see appreciative audiences for both.

"I have a great desire to do a concert -- what we call a crusade -- in Bogota, Colombia. That's my next big concert. That's why we're building the station there now, to say "Get ready, folks -- we're comin'."

In the meantime, while preparing for the Bogota concert, Gordon is gearing up to be more involved in the gospel music scene. Although he has been around the industry itself and guys like Gary McSpadden since his teens, he's never really tried to become a part of it.

Gordon side-stepped a moment to let it be known he doesn't care for the connotation that the term "gospel music" brings.

"Most gospel music bores me. It has no message. It's empty," he shares candidly. "I remember one time I was traveling with a band and we were trying to find a (radio) station. We found a gospel station playing quartet music and, nothing against good quartet music -- I love good quality quartet music. Man, I can sit and listen to the Cathedrals. I just love that stuff -- but that station wasn't happening.

Then we came across a country channel and Jerry Lee Lewis was singing "Somewhere Over the Rainbow" and I began to cry. I said to myself, 'Here is a guy whose spirit is crying out.' And I felt that, and it made an impact on me.

"I really believe that true gospel music should be a vehicle of the 'message,' " he continued. "It should not be fantasy-land gospel, it shouldn't be taking the hooks of popular music of the age and putting some type of words to it. I think it's like a man who is called to preach. God is much more interested in preparing the messenger than He is the message, because if the messenger is right the message will be right.

"That's why I guess I really don't fit the traditional gospel scene. I'm like Paul (of the New Testament). I'm a man born out of season. I just have something to say and music is just the best platform to say it on.

"My generation related to preachers. This generation relates to music, and I think the platform to get any message across right now is that of a music platform.

"People are looking for leadership like never before and having a hard time finding it. Leadership is found in Jesus. I believe God is raising up someone who has got something to say. Hopefully, we'll be somewhere in His plan even if just minutely.

"I talked to a friend of mine who has been in the (gospel music) industry for many years as to what is the next thing just over the horizon in the gospel scene that people are really longing for. He described it one of two ways. Either they need someone who is a Willie Nelson, so to speak, in that they will 'buck the system' as we know it. Or they need a Bob Dylan of sorts who will be a poet and powerfully put into words and music what's going on and what needs to. Either way, there is a need for someone who people can rally around -- someone who is a follower of God and a leader of men -- through music.

"And that's pretty well what we do, and you can tell by the album. Every song we do is a message. It's a sermon in a song."

Gordon has had a number of album projects throughout the years. While the earlier ones were with Rhonda, his wife of 21 years, the last three, including the current release, are solo endeavors.

The album was co-produced by Tony Migliore, who is Mickey Gilley's producer, and Robert Metzgar, who has produced for many artists, including the Jacksons.

Personally I found it to be an enjoyable combination of country ballad and Texas pop with a Spanish flavor -- with a positive message throughout. It will be available at area Christian bookstores toward the end of September. The first single featured will be "Higher Purpose."

All material belongs to Gordon except one melody which he borrowed from the Gatlins. Two of the cuts, "Riding the Dreams of My Heart" and "Come Up Higher," which is a song about an eagle, were written as children's songs, as they have a special place in both his music and his ministry.

With his naturally robust baritone voice, Gordon uniquely articulates the words that broadcast the message that is so important to him.

The album, which Calvary Records is presently leasing with regards to distribution, was recorded in Nashville, and the quality of the musicianship on it is evident. The "Spanish flavor" songs were recorded in San Antonio where Gordon still keeps strong ties both performing and recording.

Two songs also have just been earmarked for a video production.

When asked which of the tunes were his favorites, Gordon paused. Then he responded, "They are all written with a special purpose, but the 'eagle song' ('Come Up Higher') is probably my favorite because that's the constant cry of my heart. It asks the question, 'Why are you accepting the status quo?' Everything has its status quo, but we need to rise above that tendency and continue to reach higher. That's what separates those who quote 'make it' and those who don't.

"As I said earlier," Gordon adds in conclusion, "I just don't want to get up one day and say I wish I would have."

"The lyric of the song "Come Up Higher" perhaps best captures the message within the music of Gordon Allen Brown:

Come up higher, you've been bound to

the world way too long

Come up higher, come up where you

belong

Eyes have not seen, ears have not

heard

Just what's in store for you

You can fly higher, there's a higher

calling in you.