*Popular praise and worship leader Martha Munizzi is empathetic about how today’s youth can be constantly bombarded with messages that are contradictory to their religious upbringing. Many Christian youth of this generation continually have an uphill battle in trying to fit into an amoral society and by the time some are young adults, they turn away from the faith according to “When Worlds Collide,” authored by Mike and Daniel Blackaby. Munizzi’s latest CD “Make it Loud” (“Loud”), is a push back to the hard-to-mute negative messages in entertainment and popular culture in particular.
Like many other ministers of music of her status, the Orlando-based singer has concerts that sometimes look, feel and sound like a rock fest, down to the packed venues. On the surface, there isn’t much difference between Munizzi and her Pop female counterparts. Except she writes catchy, uplifting, positive music that overflows with references to God’s dominion and exhortations of praise to Him instead of self-absorbed, vain glorius lyrics.
For example “All the earth it is the Lord’s. Everything is yours. You are excellent!” is the hook from “Excellent” a popular single from “Loud.”
But for all the positive energy and Biblical truth that Contemporary Christian and Gospel Music communicates, Munizzi perceives secular artists may have greater influence than those who sing for God.
Says the Stellar-award winner, “It’s amazing what they tell me in pop culture and it seems like the voices are so strong. It seems like those voices were louder in their songs and videos. Number one pop artists are rising to fame and standing on platforms and they are speaking their truth convincingly and it is misguiding and leading our young people into more bondage. I was concerned about it for my kids and youth.”
As a singer says Munizzi, “For years I struggled with is it God’s will … we just labor with what is and it’s really fear based instead of saying God, ‘I’m not trying to bless me I’m singing it to bless your people.'”
Now secure in her purpose Munizzi understands, “When it’s to bless the kingdom, God says ‘I’m all up in that.’ His word says we are stamped with the ‘yes’ of heaven. (2 Corinthians 1).”
She thinks that the message in her music, the message of God’s goodness, must be proclaimed just as boldly to win youth and wants to challenges other Believers not to be passive in sharing their world view.
“Just declare God’s goodness. You don’t have to be controversial. . .It’s knowing there’s no God like our God and let’s rejoice about it and celebrate him. To me it’s like the one that’s having the most fun gets the most attention. As Believers we should be the happiest people on earth,” she surmises in the title track of the CD.
For Munizzi, the collision with the culture starts in her home.
A mother of 3 teens, Munnizzi knows firsthand how influential the media can be on impressionable minds, so she lives and leads by example. She and her husband-manager Dan have emboldened their children to combat the culture without completely sheltering them from secularism, believing naïveté can cripple one from being an effective witness for Christ. Even though Munizzi has been a working mom she has kept close watch over her children who traveled with her when they were small.
When asked if she restricts the viewing of shows like Harry Potter, the type of movie some Christian watch dog groups reject for delving into witchcraft, she says she doesn’t have a problem watching the spectacled young wizard.
“I’m not funny about that kind of stuff. I don’t watch them looking for the devil. I’ve never felt ‘oh those shows are demonic.’ I also want to keep my ear to the ground of what’s going into the hearts and minds of my children.”
Mrs. Munizzi’s parenting style, although it is intended to equip her family to be stronger Christians, is vastly different from her strict upbringing. She grew up in a Christian home where she says, “Everything was off limits,” including listening to any secular music.
Not agreeable to ruling with a metal fist, the Munizzi’s intervene with open communication when necessary.
“We would see scenes that are not right and tell them’ turn it off’ and tell them ‘tell me what’s wrong with that scene.’ We don’t want them to be shell shocked. I don’t want my kids to experience that [cus] I was shell shocked . . There are certain things that if it bothers my spirit it’s going off. I take things as they come.”
The couple has seen the impact of their teaching come full circle in several ways.
Recalls Munizzi, “When the first season of ‘Glee’ came on my kids told me ‘we don’t watch that in this house turn it off.’ They banned the first season. I didn’t know and they knew. They’ve made really good choices.”
One of their children is literally following in her parents footsteps and made her gospel singing debut on the “Make It Loud.”
“My daughter Danielle performed a song she wrote (“Your. It’s a dream come true, something I always [dreamed] would happen and wanted to happen.”
On the “Make It Loud” album, her fifth, Munizzi created songs that were suitable for church and with the exception of fellow recording artist William McDowell, she worked with a crop of local worship leaders. The album delivers both the familiar full band sound that draws you in to the praise and worship experience and refelctive solos. Fans will definitely stamp the album with a “yes” as production and music wise it is signature Munizzi. “Make It Loud” is available for purchase on amazon.com and itunes.com.
Mona Austin is Washington, DC area based journalist who blogs secular and non-secular items for EURweb, Essence and other media outlets. Contact her via [email protected].