Zephaniah Records presents:

SINGING IN THE PARK
The Western Pennsylvania Inspirational Music Festival
At Memorial Park in New Kensington, PA.

2005 Interview
 

Rex Rutkoski: How many years has it been for the fest?

David Benrexi: This is our third year.

 

RR: Has the reality of the fest lived up to what you dreamed for it, what you hoped it would turn out to be?

DB: Yes.

 

RR: Were you pleased with last year's fest? And the turn-out?

DB: Both Jo and I were very heartened by last year's Festival, especially by the willingness of the musicians to come and play and give their music away.  All who attended without exception enjoyed themselves, making it that much easier to attract musicians for this year.

  

RR: Does the festival grow each year?

 DB: Yes.  We have more singers who hear about it and contact us about participation, and we have more local people who show up, even though we do not have a very extensive advertising campaign.

 

RR: How do you judge the success of a festival?

DB: This Festival is about giving something precious away, the new songs God puts in our hearts.  We don't come to sell the songs or promote ourselves or the musicians.  We believe God inspires the songs and that He will touch hearts through the music.  We have seen this happen each of the first two years.  That is why we are back for another year, and why we would like to see Inspirational Music Festivals in other areas.

 

RR: Again, for someone new to our area, what would you tell them this event is all about?

DB: I would say to them that this Festival is unique in that we are offering Powerful New Songs from the Heart of the Creator.  It sounds like a grandiose statement, perhaps, but that is what the festival is about, sharing the songs God inspires in the human heart, nothing less and nothing more.  I would also tell them that this is a very relaxing, peaceful time in a beautiful outdoor setting.

  

RR: What are your goals for it?

DB: Our primary goal has been to bring the musicians together to share the songs free of charge.  We like to see the musicians give their music away. Many have made CDs available free of charge at the first two Festivals, and this year in addition to the performers who will be giving CDs away, we will be offering a new compilation CD called '13 X 13'.  It features thirteen songwriters sharing new songs.  Eight of them have appeared at 'Singing in the Park', and six will be on hand this year.  These are fabulous songs, and we hope to give away fifty or more of these CDs.  We also like to see the musicians make new friends and gain confidence through participation, and we expect this will be a good year for that.  We have turned some of the local churches on to the music and anticipate that this will continue, as well.

  

RR: Why is it important to have this festival?

DB: When God puts something in your heart and you know He wants you to do it, you have to decide if you will do it or not.  Jo and I believe God has a purpose for 'Singing in the Park,' that this is something He takes pleasure in.  So, here we go again.  And may God receive all the glory.

  

RR: Have any of the performers been there every year?

DB: Yes. This will be the third year in a row that we have been blessed by Companions of the Lamb from Ashtabula, Ohio, and also by Tammi Waller from Akron.  Chris Burrink is coming from Chicago for the third time.  This will also be the third year for locals Jim Rearick, Sarah Wilkins and John Craig, Tony Mator, Carmen Butler, Brooke Pinney, and Cindy Bedron.

 

RR: Is there anything new about this year's fest, in terms of format, artists, etc.

DB: The biggest change is that we are offering food and drinks to all, whereas in the past we only provided for the musicians and their families.  We want to make sure no one has to leave because of hunger.  Also, we are not using a traditional schedule of this particular performer at this particular time, but taking a more spontaneous approach to give maximum flexibility to presenting the songs.

 

RR: Are artists coming from several states?

DB: Two from Ohio (Companions of the Lamb and Tammi Waller), two from Illinois (Chris Burrink and Rick Moskovitz), one from West Virginia (Jeffrey Alan Nowak), and one from South Carolina (special surprise guest).

  

RR: Who are some of the better known artists.

DB: Andy Warhol said we all get our fifteen minutes of fame.  Jo and I have used up about fourteen so far.  As far as we're concerned no one is 'better known' than anyone else.  We do have some fabulously gifted people.  Come to the festival and hear for yourself and get a copy of '13 X 13 Volume One'.  It's like a Lay's Potato Chip--You can't listen to it just one time.  It can be heard in its entirety at our web-site, www.mydaddylovesme.org .

  

RR: Is this your label: Zephaniah Records?

DB: Yes.

  

RR: Can you tell me what towns the performers are from? We are always looking for Alle-Kiski Valley connections.

DB: The most local of the local are:

Tony Mator, Springdale ~ Third year.

Carmen Butler, New Kensington ~  Third year.

Donna Majetich, New Kensington ~ Second year.

Anne Pelchar, New Kensington ~ Second year.

Also:

Lynn Badamo,  Canonsburg ~ Second year.

Mark Muretisch, South Hills.

Gerry Cramer, New Alexandria ~ Second year.

Philip May,  Acme ~ Second year.

Manuela Moriarty, Elizabeth Township.

Kandi Bahr,  Imperial ~ Second year.

Joy Kitay,  Penn Hills ~ Second year.

Cathy Stewart,  Gratz ~ Second year.

Daniel Annis, York.

Jim Rearick,  Ford City ~ Third year.

Catalyst,  Ligonier.

Michael Mrasz,  Apollo ~ Second year.

Pamela Townsend,  Altoona ~ Second year.

Barbara Brison,  Plum.

Brooke Pinney,  Verona ~ Third year.

Sarah Wilkins,  North Hills ~ Third year.

John Craig,  Collier Township ~ Third year.

Cindy Bedron, South Hills ~  Third year.

Jamie Dillon,  Oakmont.

 

RR: Can you give me a time schedule of when artists will be on stage?

DB: We do not have a schedule.  Only approximate times the artists will arrive.  We will then fit them in.  Saturday is being divided into four quarters, 10:30-1:30, 1:30-4:30, 4:30-7:30, and 7:30-10;30.  Artists will show up at the beginning of the quarter they wish to share, and we'll fit them in.  By Friday, we should have more clarity.  For now, we only have about two thirds of it blocked out.

  

RR: Is this a free festival still?

DB: Yes.  There is no cost to come.  The food is available at a cost of $5-all you can eat and drink.

  

RR: Is a free-will offering taken?

DB: No.

  

RR: We need to publish an information phone number for people to call if they need more info. What is the best one.

DB: 412-657-6579 (Dave's cell) or 412-512-2159 (Jo's cell)

 

RR: Do you have any digital photos from past years from the fest that you can email?

DB: I will try.

  

RR: Any other comments welcome.

DB: Perhaps it is noteworthy that we have three Catholic and two Jewish songwriters as well as a broad spectrum of Protestant denominations represented.  Then again, this is not a church event, and we don't truly need to cover this interesting factoid. Some time, I would like to tell you more about Zephaniah Records, the music we publish, and how we distribute it, but I don't want to use this Music Festival to promote our ministry.   Finally, I want to thank you, Rex, for helping us to make the community aware of this event.  You've been most gracious to us. God bless you, sir!