This interview couldn’t have come at a better time for me. I’m experiencing major life changes at an unprecedented pace, and the uncertainty can be kind of scary. But it can also be exciting!
As I chat with Blanca Callahan and Manwell Reyes of Group 1 Crew, I find that I’m not alone. The two-member band used to be a three-member band, and major life-change has been a regular occurrence in more than just their music careers.
They’ve won FIVE Dove Awards, so they know a bit about what it takes to be successful, and I have a feeling that they’ll persevere through their recent changes and continue to rock people with both their music and their message.
I recently had the pleasure of connecting with Blanca and Manwell, and asking them about their new album, the message that they want to share, and even their favorite milkshake flavors. Here’s how that conversation went . . .
BibleDude.net: First of all, congrats on the new album! I can promise you that it’ll be high on the playlist rotation for me and my whole family! I know that this is a deeply personal album for you guys. What can you tell me about the circumstances that led up to the message behind the music on this one?
Manwell: We made this record reflecting on the fact that there would only be two of us and the fear of acceptance from our fans - on whether or not they’d question the change or just roll with us. We knew that we could make the best record of our career if given the chance and so that’s what we did. We harnessed all creativity and God-given direction and made something that excites us.
Blanca: This new album definitely has our heart all over it. We went through so many ups and downs this past year leading up to the record. With marriages and new ministry opportunities to loss of close family members and going from a trio to a duo. All these circumstances played a factor in creating the music.
BibleDude.net: What are some of the coolest things that you’ve learned about God and His character through all of this?
Manwell: The coolest thing we learned about God is that He’ll always back you when you decide to do the right thing. He showed us that you should never compromise what’s right for the sake of what’s easy. We made a hard decision but a right one. We’ve seen the favor of God because of that decision.
Blanca: One of the coolest things I’ve learned through all of this is how incredibly FAITHFUL God truly is. I think it was in the times where I felt my world going upside down and overwhelmed with emotion, that I found him there stronger than ever before!
BibleDude.net: So far, fans have only heard the new track He Said (featuring Chris August). What have you heard from fans about how the song has helped or encouraged them?
Manwell: The response from the fans has been absolutely amazing! Nothing but incredible testimonies have poured in.
Blanca: The feedback has been incredible. You hear so many different stories of people literally going through the fight of their lives, and through our song they have been able to find hope to keep holding on.
BibleDude.net: What advice would you give to people reading this right now who are experiencing challenges in their life that they don’t think they can handle?
Blanca: If you’re going through a challenge in your life that you don’t feel you can handle, my advice would be to remind yourself of what God has promised you!! To not be afraid, ‘cause he is with you . . . he’ll never leave you or forsake you . . . he’ll make new mercies for you every day! NOTHING can separate you from his love! These are just a few. It’s easier to remember them when things are good but it’s a true test of faith to lean on them when times are hard!!
Manwell: The only realistic advice I can give is to trust the character of God. Remove all expectation of how you think your situation should end up, but trust in the character of God and what he has told us about situations that we go through. We may never get the answer that we want, but if we trust that God works all things out for our good then that answer is good enough.
BibleDude.net: Aside from your music, how else is God using you to minister to other people?
Blanca: I feel like God had used my marriage and my life story to minister to people beyond just music.
Manwell: Beyond music, my ministry is simply one-on-one encouragement and accountability for the people close to me. There’s numerous ministries that I’m connected to and support and I’ll continue to do so, but other than that, it’s the everyday one-on-one contact with people that I feel God uses the most.
BibleDude.net: What are you praying for the most right now?
Blanca: I’m praying the most for my family right now. My mom and brother both recently re-committed themselves back to the Lord and I see everyday more and more how He is making himself known to them. Also for me to be open to hear his direction for my life. I never want to become complacent.
Manwell: What I’m praying for the most right now is God’s hand on our ministry. That he protect us from the tricks of the enemy.
BibleDude.net: Let’s say you just get done with a big show, and you stop at McDonald’s to get a milkshake. What flavor do you get?
Manwell: I don’t get milkshakes from McDonald’s. Maybe a flurry if I had to get something. An M&M mixed with Oreos.
Blanca: STRAWBERRY all day long!! Lol!
BibleDude.net: LOL! Me too Blanc! Okay, last question . . . I know you guys are on tour, but what’s next for Group 1 Crew?
Manwell: It’s an important year, one of which I can’t predict so the only thing I can say is that my hope is in the grace of Christ and my desire is for future Godly success.
Blanca: We have the new album, Fearless, coming out on Sept 10 and we also have some big tours coming up in the fall with Britt Nicole and Royal Taylor and another with Toby Mac! You can find all this exciting stuff and more at Group1crew.com.
I, for one, will definitely be following along. The new album, the tour, and ministry of a couple of really talented musicians are all worth keeping an eye (and ear) on. Thank you Blanca and Manwell! You guys rock!