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Worship Leader Ricardo Sanchez Urges Listeners to Taste and See

Photo Credit: Larsen & Talbert Photography

Chris Carpenter - Director of Internet Programming

Blending equal parts rock, Latin, Tejano and jazz, Dove Award winning worship leader Ricardo Sanchez has released an energetic new live recording called Taste and See.

Recorded earlier this year at San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church, Taste and See delivers a collection of ten songs, hallmarked by high energy offerings “Greater, Greater”, “Faithful” and the melodic title track.  In addition, Dove Award winning vocalist Blanca joins Sanchez on the salsa-fueled “Tu Gracia”.

I recently sat down with Ricardo to discuss his heart for Taste and See, the song that serves as the cornerstone for the new record, and how he effectively juggles music ministry with home and family.

A question I always like to ask worship leaders is how do you effectively balance your recording career with your duties at your home church without diminishing the quality of what you do in either area?

With a strong woman by your side.  Luckily we’ve had some great pastors in our lives that have taught us about family and the importance of that. I grew up in a musical family. I grew up where my brothers and sisters and I sang. There were six of us. Three of us traveled and sang with my father. And he would hire Mariachi bands.  My father was always there, and was a great example for that but, seeing my mom and how they intertwined, it kind of made sense to me. So, when my wife and I were early in our marriage, and I started my first tour, we immediately went to marriage counseling. Not because there was anything wrong, but because I knew I was going to be on the road, and I saw what it did to my father and my mother. We realized that communication is going to be different. You know things are not going to smell the same metaphorically or taste the same, and so we had to realize that and recognize that there will be pitfalls. The approach is the people; the approach is the family first and really focusing on building that and strengthening our sons.   We learned a long time ago that there’s a part of this that is a job. But really underneath it all is a call.

For someone who has never listened to your music how would you describe it to him or her?

Energetic and passionate. I’ve always prescribed to the idea that excellence trumps preference. So what we try to do is hire guys that we know, that we have a relationship with—this is my band. These are people who we’ve either traveled with for a long time or we have done stuff with that are excellent at what they do. I grew up in a Pentecostal church, and it is where I got born again, and so there was a lot of music. So for us to get on the stage and it to go left or right off script is not difficult for us. Those are the guys that I have behind me, not all Pentecostal guys, just multi-denominational guys I trust. So for us, that’s how we approach it. The comments that we get are “Man, we are passionate. Man, there was so much excitement; you believe what you sing,” and I think that’s what people will get. And then there’s the genre side of it, that you know people will define it for themselves. But our music is kind of like a fusion of rock, Latin and soul.

Taste and See is a live recording.  When you set out to record a live worship album what is the approach?  I’m guessing that creating the right set list is vital but what else goes into making a recording such as this?

There are tons of plates that are spinning, and you’ve got to start with the first one. The first one is the conversation.  Do we want to do a live record? I say this because we know all the irons that are about to be in the fire. And really for us it has to be organic. It has to be real. I guess that’s where the passion comes in. The label was onboard. They loved the idea. The song “Taste and See” wasn’t even written yet.  You’ll get guys like Bruce Springsteen and they will write 100 songs and whittle them down to 50, then whittle them down to 25, and then whittle them down some more. For me, it’s what’s living and breathing right now? And what am I hearing?  I’ve got this Latin background but I love rock and roll music, I love Christian music, I love country music.  We came up with nine songs.  It’s just this eclectic mixed bag of ideas.

In our conversation, I can sense the passion in your voice just talking about the new record. What is the heart behind recording Taste & See?

Well it’s interesting that you say that. My wife asked, “How do you feel about this recording?” And I’m like, “My heart is wide open.” I’m ready for God to speak.  These guys that I have with me are super talented, all worship leaders, all involved in churches, so they get that stage. They get what it’s for.  People ask me all the time, what’s the difference between praise and performance? And I’m of just of the belief that the difference between praise and performance is the posture of your heart. Anyone can take any song and make it a performance. And they might even look at the stage when we are ministering; but my heart, before we walked on that stage is always posturing to Jesus and making Him famous. And the idea for the record, the heart behind the record is hopefully to give people an opportunity to have a conversation about Jesus.  The record has funk. It’s got soul. It’s got rock. It’s got Caribbean influences. There’s a mixed bag of ideas on this record, all pointed and rooted in the Word. We use scripture a lot in our lyrics; every song could have a scripture to it. Hopefully, Taste and See will start a conversation about Jesus for people, whether you’re a mechanic, whether you’re in radio, whether you’re in TV, whether you’re in law. There’s a song we wrote called “Faithful.” It’s a reminder that in Jeremiah 29:11, He began a new work. He has a plan, a hope for the future for you, and it serves as a reminder. That was the heart behind it. It was that we want to give people an opportunity to have conversation in a non-threatening way about Jesus.

You wrote or co-wrote all 10 tracks on the album.  Is there any one song that you see as the cornerstone of the entire recording?

It’s a song we wrote with Josh Dufresne called, “You Surrounded Me.” He’s a worship leader in Dallas at Covenant Church. It’s basically this story from 2nd Kings about Elisha and the servant.  When Elisha was whispering to the king, God was whispering to Elisha, “Hey your enemies are going to be here; avoid them.” So, the enemy, the king sends out assassins to kill him.  Elisha’s servant walks out and sees his enemies surrounding. And all of the sudden Elisha walks out and prays for him, his servant. Scales fall from his eyes and he is able to see God’s army surrounding his enemies. The idea, when I started praying and was reading that story, I’m like, though my enemies surround me, though we see mountains, though we see struggles and trials, our God surrounds our enemies. And so it’s a ballad with these beautiful strings, it’s just a 26-piece orchestra rocking out.  And it’s got these heavy guitar undertones, but there’s a lot of passion in it.  I love it.

I think it’s a great statement or cornerstone for who we are. We are about redemption, we are about second, third, 15 chances, we are about grace and love. Grace isn’t a crutch to give you an excuse to sin, grace to us is a catapult that allows us to launch out of where we were into something brand new. And so my God surrounds me.

As an artist, after people have listened to and experienced Taste & See what do you want them to take away from that experience?

Jesus.  I think so many times the world has a way of beating us up and reminding us of who we are not. And I’ve learned a long time ago that if you don’t know who you are, someone will tell you who you are. And you will end up being in a relationship, you will end up being in a ministry, you will end up being in a job that you never wanted to be in initially. So I love that God has this way, whether you’re in church, whether you’re in camp, whether you’re in the seminar, or whether you’re listening to a CD, God has a way of matriculating that anointing, or that vision of your life and reminding you. And I think it’s his Word and that’s why I so love singing the Bible. Because there’s no pressure; it’s God. I want to create, and I hope people like this record, I’m really proud of this. I think people will be pleasantly surprised if they never heard our stuff before. But honestly, I think it’s Jesus, like another opportunity to remind people that they’re fearfully and wonderfully made, and everything is okay, that greater who is He is in you. Taste and see that the Lord is good and His love endures forever. I think that’s just such a needed reminder to the body of Christ, especially with what’s going on in our world, politically, economically, and socially. It’s not about the color of our skin; it’s about Jesus, and do we believe or not.

Watch Ricardo Sanchez perform "Greater, Greater" from Taste and See (Live):

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