Assistant Managing Editor
LONGMEADOW Longmeadow native Matt Chandler has taken what he's learned at home and is using it fullforce to shape his future.
The 2000 graduate of Longmeadow High School has released his debut inspirational CD "I Am Yours," a nine-track homage to faith and hope.
Chandler began playing guitar in middle school and continued his love of music straight through high school, participating in chorus. Even his father Steven was blown away when he saw what his son could do at a young age.
"Since middle school he started playing the guitar and singing and writing songs. I went to hear him one night at a talent show. It took me by surprise," Steven said.
In seventh grade Chandler's girlfriend introduced him to the youth group at her church and his father said he really gained inspiration there.
"He went there with his girlfriend and really got hooked, and he has been very involved in church ever since," Steven said. "When he graduated high school, he traveled the country singing in a Christian group ["Wings of Morning"]. He met his wife [Rachel] in Denver. When he got back from there, he went to Boston Baptist College and got a degree in pastoral. Now he's out in Montana as a music pastor."
Yet still Chandler remembers his roots. The last song on his CD titled "Gone Home," is in remembrance of a close friend in East Longmeadow who passed away. Steven said Chandler had also performed the piece at his funeral.
So what does a father say about his son bringing music to the masses? He said he and his wife Diane are proud.
"I like [the songs]. I think they're very inspirational. You can tell they're coming from his heart. I hope people enjoy the music and listen to the words," he added.
Matt Chandler is a storyteller. On his debut album "I Am Yours," he weaves inspirational stories and positive messages to acoustic guitar strums. The Longmeadow native's lyrics read like an open letter to God while offering hope and guidance to young and old listeners alike. On most tracks Chandler's lyrics sound more like lessons he has learned rather than preachy testimonials, which is important for reaching an audience who may not usually listen to spiritual/inspirational artists. All of the nine songs were either written or co-written by Chandler.
What Chandler lacks in vocal strength he makes up for with strong lyrics. On songs like "I am Yours," Chandler affirms his commitment, singing, "So I think of the way that you love from the start/and I live like a prisoner set free/so forever, forever I am yours." A music pastor in Montana, Chandler easily uses this arena to spread the message of faith. Though his acoustic guitar tends to be number one on most tracks, it's nice when Scott Sheriff, on keys, and Edd Gryder, on electric guitar, get to shine on tracks such as "My God," and the listener gets to appreciate the musicality instead of just the lyrics.
Chandler does have his own unique style and he's definitely an inspirational artist to watch. With another album and some tours underneath his belt, Chandler will hit his stride. If you have to make a debut, this is how you do it. Song to listen to: "He's Alive."
For more information on Matt Chandler visit www.mattchandlermusic.com.