So what are the basics of great contemporary, Christian music? A heart that loves the Lord and wants to glorify only Him.
God-inspired, storytelling, original music. Voices that can sing and convey those songs in perfect harmony to the strains of a folksy,
acoustic guitar, drums, bass, electric guitar, cello, mandolin, harmonica……..
Sounds like the music band, “basic”, that recently released their third CD, Come As You Are, on August 29, 2002. They are Greg and
Jen Campbell, a husband and wife team who put their lives and love for the Lord before the world with their full time ministry, Basic
Music Ministries, doing what they feel they are called to do, everyday. They like to describe themselves as “musicianaries”, a title that
seems to encompass their personal vision and mission statement. “ We don’t want people to only love our music or us. We use it to
point people to Jesus,” Greg said. Their CD, Come as You Are, depicts God’s invitation and acceptance of us no matter who we are
or what we’ve done. It’s central theme is God’s amazing grace.
Almost 10 years ago, Greg made a demo CD, singing with his sister Tara, supported and funded by his parents. He had been writing
private songs to God and with the help of a bass player and drummer, recorded them. His Mom came up with the name Brother and
Sister in Christ, which later became basic, the acronym for it. Greg realized then that basic was also meaningful in that “the basic plan
of the gospel is that we all become ‘brothers and sisters in Christ’”, he said. The name stuck.
Basic released their first CD, Another Road Trip, in the spring of 1996 while attending Cincinnati Bible College. By that summer the
band members were scattered all over the country (and Argentina!) so the future of the band was in question. Then Greg moved to
Rochester, continued to write lots and lots of songs, hooked up with Jen at the church he was doing outreach ministries with and
married her. Together they became basic and have recorded two CD’s as well as toured the country full time since July 2001 to places
like New York, Ohio, Florida, the east coast, Pennsylvania and Michigan.
Although they love living in Palmyra, New York with their two small sons, Ian and Alex, they enjoy touring and have a support system
around the country. Most of their bookings come via word of mouth, through family, friends and bible college friends that are now
living in the areas they perform. While spreading God’s love and grace through their music they also reunite with old friends and have
familiar places to stay. They sing in churches as well as universities and secular coffeehouses. “They know that we’re there to sing
about Jesus and we get great receptions”, Greg said. They are known to play anything from their original music to taking requests for
Neil Diamond songs (which they do very well!). Touring is not without it’s pitfalls though. Their tour to New Mexico earlier this year was
“extra fun” as Greg recalls episodes of major car repairs, sickness that spread one by one to all four of them, their youngest not
tolerating the long ride and to top it all off, their clothes were stolen out of the van that also held all their equipment, which was left
intact. But their attitude remains consistent with why they do what they do – to get the message in their music out to as many people
as possible even if it’s one person at a time. “You have to be ready to give up yourself,“ Greg said. “Our heart is not to get ourselves
or our music known but to get Jesus known.”
And it seems they are doing just that, sometimes without having to make the trip. Recently they received an email from a fellow in
Peru who had been sent a couple basic CD’s from someone in New York, who had been there on a mission trip. Turns out the guy in
Peru has a two hour radio program on a secular station and plays basic music regularly. People call in wanting to know who that was.
He takes the opportunity to tell them what the song is about and who Jesus is. He also uses the music while preaching and his
church sings some of the songs. As a result, sixteen people gave their lives to Jesus at one time.
Back in Palmyra Greg and Jen, feel right at home in the 1800’s village house they rent, but feel as if it’s their own. When I visited
them there was a comfortable, laid back feeling about them mixed with a contagious joy, where it was apparent that what they wanted
to talk about most was getting Jesus known through their music. Basic’s prayer is to be used by God through their gift of music to plug
in with the local churches as a tool to be used on a Sunday morning, through concerts, to help highlight a special event, or to lead
worship. Throughout the spring and summer they do concerts in the Palmyra Town Park and at Christmas they perform at area malls.
“In the malls at Christmas the Christians don’t expect to hear about Jesus,” Greg said. “They tell me ‘I used to go to church and now
you’ve helped me get back on track.’ Our hope is that the seeds that we plant stay in their hearts and head – we don’t need to see
Greg’s sister Tara now teaches voice at Cincinnati Bible College and Greg is still writing songs. He says he has tons of songs yet to
be recorded and plans on continuing to be a musicianarie full time. “We try to do everything that comes our way and trust God to take
care of us,” he said. And He does.
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