Kickstarting local Catholic musicians

| Jennifer Janikula for The Catholic Spirit | August 27, 2014 | 1 Comment

Like other artists hoping to broaden their reach, St. Paul man uses crowd-funding website for debut album

Catholic musician Benjamin Brekke, a parishioner of St. Mark in St. Paul, is using the crowd-funding website Kickstarter to help him launch his debut album, “Be Not Afraid.” Jennifer Janikula/For The Catholic Spirit

Catholic musician Benjamin Brekke, a parishioner of St. Mark in St. Paul, is using the crowd-funding website Kickstarter to help him launch his debut album, “Be Not Afraid.” Jennifer Janikula/For The Catholic Spirit

After two and a half years of middle-of-the-night song-writing and guitar-playing sessions, Benjamin Brekke’s debut album “Be Not Afraid” is almost ready for release. Like many aspiring artists and entrepreneurs, Brekke has turned to Kickstarter to raise money to complete his project.

Kickstarter, a crowd-funding website, allows entrepreneurs and artists to create public pledge campaigns to support their work. The campaigns offer rewards, like free digital downloads or free concerts, for every pledge.

Brekke, a member of St. Mark in St. Paul, hopes to raise $2,000 on Kickstarter by Sept. 4 to finish mixing, mastering, packaging and distributing his CDs. He is about halfway to his goal.


Inspired by eucharistic adoration, the lives of the saints, and the blessings and struggles of life, Brekke’s music and lyrics offer hope and inspiration.

“Brokenness always leads to redemption, and I really wanted to capture this on the album,” explained Brekke, who started writing music at age 15. “We’re not called to be scared. We are called to stand up and be brave and to claim God and all his wonderful works and make our lives into masterpieces.”

This “masterpiece” concept, from St. John Paul II’s “Letter to Artists,” drives Brekke’s musical creativity. Written in 1999, the letter states, “Yet, as Genesis has it, all men and women are entrusted with the task of crafting their own life: In a certain sense, they are to make of it a work of art, a masterpiece.”

“Be Not Afraid,” with honest lyrics and an eclectic mix of instruments including guitar, ukulele, piano, drums, tuba and trumpet, explores themes of mercy, belonging and hope.

One song, “Belong to You,” addresses Brekke’s struggle with clinical depression and the sense of belonging that leaves him during low times.

“Sometimes, the only place I really feel that sense of belonging is at eucharistic adoration,” Brekke said. “We are so bombarded by technology and information. We never get silence, and that’s one thing I strive for — it’s just you and Jesus. My mind clears, and there’s a deeper connection and conversation.”

“Mercy,” a song featured on Brekke’s Kickstarter page, describes the struggle and then peace found in “give it to God” moments when life becomes so overwhelming that your only choice is to let go.

“There are times in life when you have everything planned out,” Brekke explained, “then it falls apart, but you keep pushing until you finally call out mercy, and let God take over.”

Brekke’s wife, Joy, who despite her piano and percussion skills, prefers her “roadie” status, calls her husband’s album “a simple, genuine, humble invitation for others to see how brokenness leads to redemption during the journey of life. If you are open to it, you can find hope within it.”

Supporting local Catholic musicians

Brekke also believes the strength and importance of the Catholic message encourages everyone to support local Catholic musicians.

“Music from the Catholic perspective is important because people need hope — they are searching for answers,” Brekke said. “The Catholic message is important today, as a message of hope — not to judge, but to offer a sense of belonging.”

Besides Brekke, several Catholic musicians with local roots found support using crowd-funding websites.

In 2013, Donny Todd raised more than $12,000 for a Catholic album with an alternative sound, and Brian Kusek raised $900 for his album “Foxholes and Crow’s Nests.” More recently, Nate Reinhardt from the local band Sonar raised nearly $6,000 for his forthcoming debut album, “Marriage of the Lamb.”

Another musician with local roots, Luke Spehar, hopes to reach his $17,000 goal by Sept. 14 to support the production and tour for his album “All is Gift.”

To learn more about Benjamin Brekke and “Be Not Afraid,” visit his Kickstarter page, or email

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Category: Faith and Culture, Featured