November 30th is a big day for Gerald Allen, the career electrician who’s spent the last five years working at Livonia Transmission Plant is dropping his first Gospel album on Spotify, ITunes and other major streaming platforms. Allen has debuted two singles so far and he’s received positive reviews from his coworkers, friends, family and other gospel fans. He’s trying to decide where he’ll throw his album release party. It’s seems sort of surreal that Allen’s life is taking this sort of turn and that uncanniness is only compounded considering that Allen couldn’t play the piano or write lyrics a 7 years ago.
Allen is the Senior Pastor at Oasis Ministries, a growing church on Detroit’s east side. He delivers the sermon every Sunday after work at LTP. He’s been a minister at Oasis Ministries for about 12 years and before he was an ordained minister, he was a drummer. Allen had a passion for music back then but when he became a senior pastor he noticed that the church couldn’t keep a good musician for long because they couldn’t pay for it. Some Sundays there was no musician at all and worshippers only had CD’s to use. “It was challenging in the fact that I couldn’t get a musician because they wanted $500 or $1000 a week and the church couldn’t afford that” Allen said. So he decided to teach himself the piano.
Allen spent months trying to master the piano. He had no formal training so he simply played his favorite gospel tunes and tried to copy the instrumental. “It was bad, I couldn’t get it together” Allen said. Allen practiced the piano for six months in his free time and he wasn’t making progress. Allen said his wife thought it was just noise. Then one night he went to bed and Allen says that God sent an angel to visit him in his sleep and when we woke up the next day things started to click. All of a sudden his chord progressions started to work, he could copy the songs he was trying to practice and he could write his own lyrics. “It was amazing” Allen said.
He kept practicing and before he knew it his first two songs “Rain” and “The Lord is My Help” were done. Initially he tried to produce and master the tracks himself, but after some prayer he found producer Greg Pearson on the internet and he helped get Allen’s tracks radio ready.
At this point Allen is still putting the finishing touches on his album, but he’s thankful for the progress he’s made. “It’s funny, now that I’m making music, I got musicians. I have a drummer and an organist” Allen said. Allen still preaches every Sunday and even though he says it can still be tiring, it’s a far cry from having to worry about the Sunday services musical selection on top of everything else. “Going through this crucible helped bring out a talent in me that I didn’t know I had” Allen said and he believes that experiences like this one will help him make more music in the future.