By Leilani Roberts Ott
Artist Jeremy Hart knows Southern gospel music.
“That’s what I was raised on and what I love,” he said.
At only 21, he leans to the progressive style.
“I recognize most kids my age don’t give Southern gospel the time of day,” Hart said.
That’s why his concerts include a praise and worship song. He also does some older gospel songs such as “ ’Tis So Sweet to Trust in Jesus” and hymns such as “What a Friend We Have in Jesus.”
You can hear these and much more when Hart presents his third annual “I Will Sing” fall concert at 6 p.m. Saturday at the Roxy Theater, 220 W. Okmulgee Ave. Hart performs at The Roxy twice a year. Tickets are $15 for adults and $1 for children younger than 10. Tickets are available at the door.
You can hear his music including “Through Me the Cross Lives On,” on radio station 91.5 along with music by The Dunaways, a family from Mississippi. The group will be in concert with him Saturday performing its No. 5 charting song on the radio this month, “Don’t Start Doubting Now.”
“That’s a pretty big deal,” Hart said. “Their first No. 1 song last year was ‘When There’s No Hope, There is Grace.’”
He and The Dunaways have several mutual friends.
“We’re just going to have a good time,” he said.
Hart travels full time singing, playing piano and preaching Sundays in churches, revivals, camps and retreats. He spent four weeks in Georgia in May. When he’s not on the road, he lives with his parents in Muskogee. He’s filling in for his former graphics art instructor at Indian Capital Technology Center while the instructor is out on medical leave. He attended the center, then received a graphics design degree from Oklahoma State University Institute of Technology in Okmulgee.
He does freelance graphic design, mostly for the Southern gospel music industry. His projects include album cover artwork, concert posters and T-shirt designs. A T-shirt he designed will be available Saturday for $15.
Life is good for him because his hobbies — graphic design and music — are also how he makes his living.
“I absolutely love it,” he said.
Hart started following in his grandfather and father’s footsteps as a preacher when he was 13. His grandfather Bill Shirel has been the pastor at the United Pentecostal Church of Muskogee for 50 years. His father, Mike Hart, has co-pastored with Shirel for 10 years. Jeremy Hart said there are three levels of minister licensing in his church. He completed the first level in June.
“I’ve grown up in a preacher’s home,” he said. “Church is the center of life.”
His mother, Cindy Hart, plays the piano in the church and his grandmother Donna Shirel plays the organ. Hart can play guitar, organ and saxophone, but he sticks with the piano on stage. He uses tracks recorded in or near Nashville for his concerts along with him playing the piano.
Hart has recorded four CDs, his first when he was 15. His current favorite song, “Through Me the Cross Lives On,” he wrote in 2010 while working on his album “Give Me Grace.” He wanted to add a song about the cross but hadn’t found the words yet. A friend from Davis called him and wanted Hart to write a song for his church’s dedication of a new sanctuary and his friend’s fifth year as a preacher.
“The next day I was driving home from school and I thought about how a lot of those around me don’t hear the message of the cross,” he said. “If they are going to hear it, it’s through me. It’s a challenge to the church to not only serve God but to share with others.”
About The Dunaways
Appearing with Jeremy Hart in concert at 6 p.m. Saturday at The Roxy Theater will be the national charting family group The Dunaways of Mississippi. A ministry that began in 1993, The Dunaways’ music is played by the Solid Gospel Radio Network, based in Nashville, and heard in 115 markets nationwide. Some of the larger venues where the group has played include Crabbfest, The National Quartet Convention, and radio programs including “Front Porch Fellowship,” “The Gospel Greats” with Paul Heil, and “The Midnight Jamboree” with Dottie Rambo.
The group recently celebrated its first No. 1 song, “When There’s No Hope, There Is Grace,” showing on multiple charts including Singing News Magazine, Cashbox Magazine, Amazon.com and Absolutely Gospel.
The radio single “Don’t Start Doubting Now” is No. 5 in the nation for November on the Singing News Magazine Top 80 chart.
If you go
WHAT: “I Will Sing” concert with Jeremy Hart of Muskogee and The Dunaways of Mississippi.
WHEN: 6 p.m. Saturday. Doors open at 5 p.m.
WHERE: The Roxy Theater, 2 20 W. Okmulgee Ave.
TICKETS: $15 for adults and $1 for children younger than 10. Available at the door, by calling (918) 348-8500, at Ruth’s Christian Bookstore in Arrowhead Mall and The Blessing Christian Bookstore, 930 Eastside Blvd., or online at www.jeremyhartmusic.com.