Many ministries have lived in The Shed at Immanuel Anglican Church in Destin.
The latest one to occupy the outbuilding off the parking lot is a passion project that is here to stay. Doug Bowers, a longtime rock musician and producer, transformed the space into a recording studio in November. It houses a ministry called the Immanuel Music Project, in which musicians of all genres can rehearse and record professional quality music for free.
“If you go to a studio, it costs so much money,” Bowers said. “We just wanted a safe space for people who maybe didn’t think they were good enough to hire a studio or couldn’t afford it, and a good way to offer free services for anybody.”
Musicians interested in free recording, mixing and mastering may email Bowers at firstname.lastname@example.org or contact the ministry through Facebook messenger at the Immanuel Music Project Facebook page. Immanuel Anglican Church is at 250 Indian Bayou Trail, Destin.
‘Create for the Creator’
Adam Martin couldn’t hide his love for music if he tried.
It was his passion that first sparked the idea of the Immanuel Music Project.
Martin grew up listening to hip-hop music, and later found an emotional outlet through freestyling in rap battles while attending college in Memphis, Tennessee. He moved to Destin in April 2018 and began as a discipleship intern at Immanuel Anglican Church. Father Caleb Miller took notice of Martin’s love of music.
“He knew I was into music and using music — hip-hop, specifically — as a way to glorify the Creator, create for the Creator,” Martin said. “He knew that was my mindset. He knew I was making songs, and he actually formulated the idea.”
Fellow music enthusiasts Bowers and Chris Cannon, the church’s music director, quickly joined the project. The three men make up an eclectic trio of genres — Martin, a passionate rapper; Bowers, a self-proclaimed “rock guy;” and Cannon, an electronic dance music lover, who Martin said is also a “boss piano player.”
Other musicians will also volunteer for The Immanuel Music Project. They have a community of musicians available to bring in on other people's music when needed, Bowers said.
“(Miller) knew we had musicians here that would be willing to take time to get in a space where people can come create,” Martin said. “We can use it as not only a place where people can get solid music recording and grow in their music ability, but also as a way to minister in a place that’s a safe environment to create.”
Many recording studios don’t fit Martin’s definition of a safe space.
“A lot of studios I’ve been into, one, you have to pay, and two, it’s not always the best environment,” Martin said. “There’s a lot of things going on to try to enhance creativity. It can be intimidating. So a place like this … it’s going to be a place where you can be yourself and not worry about having to fit in, not worrying if it’s your first time ever.”
‘What the spirit wants’
The Immanuel Music Project is for everybody, Bowers said.
Any genre or musician is welcome. The only conditions are that he or she makes an intentional, conscious effort to not glorify sex or drugs, objectify genders or promote violence, Cannon said.
Cannon hopes it will offer a chance to meet people in the community and help develop a burgeoning music scene in Destin, he said.
“Come check it out. Come meet us,” Cannon said. “We each have a reason for being here. We each believe in the aspects of ministry that this church upholds and the character of some of the leadership.
“We want to help people make music.”
“We definitely wouldn’t want people to be intimidated by the fact that the studio’s operated by three Christians and it’s on church property,” Bowers said. “We really want to be here for everybody. We’re not trying to convert people. It’s a ministry.”
Musicians can record raw tracks at The Shed, a recording studio with a built-in enclosure for drummers. The project offers free recording, mixing and mastering of up to three songs in any one session and at the discretion of the engineer.
They will also have the option of Bowers taking the track to his more advanced home studio and producing a finished, mastered product, he said.
“It’s depending on how far people want to take it,” Bowers said. “The basic idea is you can come in here and actually record something that’s studio quality and then get a really professional, shiny, squeaky, clean result.”
Martin doesn’t want people to perceive The Shed as a place with a business atmosphere, he said. With its retro couch and cozy environment, the space doubles as a hang-out spot for musicians to mingle.
“We’re very open to helping people in the writing process, helping people in the recording process, how to have mic presence in the studio — giving them tips,” Martin said. “We’re not just like, ‘Come in here, record your tracks and then get out. We’ll mix it and master it for you.’ We want artists to grow. We want them to develop.”
Martin hopes the project will plant a positive seed in an industry that is usually dark.
“It’s kind of run by culture and what culture wants,” Martin said. “We want it to be driven by what the spirit wants. We want to be a small factor in flipping that mindset in the music industry.”