Cathedrals are generally thought of as soaring, impressive structures that serve as a gathering place for God’s people to worship and enjoy community. Leave it to Tenth Avenue North to challenge conventional perception by reminding us that we are the cathedrals and wherever we are is holy ground.
The Dove Award-winning band’s fourth studio album, aptly titled Cathedrals, is a collection of well-crafted songs that inspire community, encourage accountability and celebrate the fact we are not alone. “So many of us live in isolation and we really don’t have to,” says lead vocalist Mike Donehey. “So the idea is: ‘Hey get in the boat with us, sail by the stars of God’s promises and reach the shore of community.’ We realize that when we start to live together, we become the cathedrals on earth. We are the place where the sprit resides. It no longer dwells in buildings but in each of us.”
The lead single, “No Man is an Island,” underscores the message of community and reminds us we are not alone. “The line that really hits me is: ‘I’m for you,’ which is something I think we need to learn to say more often because a lot of people that I know have never had anyone say that to them,” Donehey says. “To build community you have to let people call you out. You have to let people disagree with you or else you don’t really have community. You just have a bunch of people who agree with you, which is not the same thing. And whenever you start to call someone out, immediately their fists go up, but it’s amazing how you can see the fists come down when you just say, ‘Hey I’m for you. I’m not trying to tear you down here. I’m trying to lead you to life.’”
Spreading truth and leading people to life is exactly what the members of Tenth Avenue North have been doing since launching the band during their college days in West Palm Beach, Florida. The group made its national debut in 2008 on Reunion Records with Over and Underneath, which spawned the hits “Love is Here,” “By Your Side” and “Hold My Heart.” Tenth Avenue North won the Gospel Music Association Dove Award in 2009 for New Artist of the Year and in 2010 “By Your Side” was named Song of the Year. The band gained further momentum with 2010’s The Light Meets the Dark and The Struggle in 2012 which continued to populate radio and the church with such memorable songs as “Healing Begins,” “You Are More,” “Losing” and “Worn.” Donehey, drummer Jason Jamison, bassist Ruben Juarez, keyboardist Brendon Shirley and guitarist Jeff Owen have forged a unique sound that has made them one of the Christian music’s most successful young bands. But for Tenth Avenue North, it’s never been about awards and industry accolades, but about reaching people with the truth.
Cathedrals is filled with songs that are musically vibrant and anthemic while lyrically calling believers out of complacency and into community. “We Won’t Numb the Pain” is musically inventive and lyrically pointed as it challenges society to really feel and engage instead of medicating with technology. ‘That’s where I get that line: ‘We want the cure, not the medication,’” notes Donehey. “If I have a deep ache and a deep need I don’t want to fill it with entertainment until I get over the hump. I want to deal with the loss.”
On Cathedrals, Tenth Avenue North continues to create music that is as thought provoking as it is entertaining and as soul nourishing as it is challenging. These songs remind us, as the single says “No Man is an Island.” We were made for community. We are God’s cathedrals on earth. “The reason you are made for community is because we are made in the image of the community,” Donehey states.
We believe in the Trinity. The Father, Son and Holy Spirit means at the essence of who God is, is relationship. And it also means we know if that is true, then God didn’t make us because He was lonely or because He needed us. He made us because of an overflow of the relationship. It makes sense that we are not only made for relationship with Him, but as Jesus prayed, ‘May they be one as I and the Father are one.’ We have eyes open to one another because no man is an island. We are made in the image of a community.”