An anointed songwriter and energetic minister of music; Mike Willis is gearing up for his first live recording with his group The Called. The group will be recording at True Holy Church : City of Refuge in Brooklyn on Saturday, September 14th at 7 p.m. Mike is currently the minister of music at Harvest Church International in Queens, where he has served since January 2006. After a productive rehearsal for the recording, Mike sat down to answer a few questions.
AB: Who inspired you musically growing up?
MW: (laughs) I used to stand in front of the mirror and listen to Hezekiah Walker all day. I thought I was a member of his choir and direct people that weren't there. So definitely Hezekiah Walker, Donald Lawrence was a big musical influence as far as lyrics are concerned. I listened to Kirk Franklin, Tye Tribbett and a few others.
AB: When did your musical journey begin?
MW: I would say eight years ago when I started attending Harvest Church International. I believe that is when things really started to happen, because I was pushed by my Bishop. He continually said that I had more in me than I thought I did. One day I saw it for myself and I began writing songs, it progressed from there.
AB: What pushed you to start the group?
MW: One of my friends continued to ask me when was I going to start the group. One particular time she asked me, someone else asked the same thing later on in the week. I believe that was definitely the Lord speaking and prompting me to start it. I started praying and seeking God for direction, then I got permission from my Pastor. So when he gave me the release, I knew the time was NOW.
AB: Why the particular name "The Called"?
MW: I remember sitting in my room one day asking God "what am I going to call this group?" and I kept hearing "Called" in my spirit. The same friend that continually asked me when I was starting the group called me that same day. She said to me "Mike what do you think about naming the group The Called?" She just confirmed what the Lord dropped in my spirit, so from then it was The Called.
AB: What is The Called's purpose statement?
MW: Our purpose statement is to uplift people. I see so many people crying in this day and age. So, the main message of our songs is to "#staypositive". It is my theme and something I live by. It is to let you know that weeping may endure for a night (c'mon scriptures!!) (laughs), but joy comes in the morning.
AB: What can you tell us about the recording on Saturday?
MW: You can expect a lot of me dancing and a lot of The Called dancing. You can expect the band to be that energetic band that everybody knows. But, overall, you can expect a move of God. We have been praying and fasting this whole week leading up to the recording. Because we really need the anointing, not just entertainment.
AB: Is it all original music on Saturday? Any guest artists on any songs?
MW: Yes, all original music. I wrote all the material except for one song. I have the great Timiney Figueroa-Caton singing on one song. Mrs. Denise Powell from Connecticut who also wrote a song. I have David McClure , one of the lead singers from Youthful Praise helping out on a song. I have James Powell and James Dell coming through as well.
AB: How do you define ministry?
MW: I define ministry as what you've went through. I believe it takes somebody to go through something to be able to minister to something. Your testimony doesn't mean anything if it is not your testimony. So every song that I write it happened at one point in my life or another. I can't jump into other people's shoes, I can only speak for me. My songs are pretty much sermons put to music.
Be sure to support Mike Willis and The Called on their live recording this Saturday in Brooklyn. Check back for highlights from the recording and more with Mike Willis.