by Jessica Langdon
KANSAS CITY, Kan. — Hundreds of teens from around the archdiocese happily complied when they were asked to sing a new song.
And their collective voices have been immortalized on a much-anticipated CD from none other than the immensely popular Christian group, the Mikey Needleman Band.
“In order to thank our fans from Camp Tekakwitha, who tend to be our biggest fans, we did something special on this CD,” said Needleman, a Catholic singer/songwriter from Olathe who has played an active role for many years in archdiocesan ministry.
“We actually went up to camp and recorded the campers singing background parts that we included in the songs of this CD,” said Needleman. “So, if you ever hear a large crowd singing, it’s actually hundreds of campers from our archdiocese that were recorded and placed on the CD.”
He wrote all the songs featured on the album “Your Ways,” which he describes as a very liturgical CD.
“It would be like listening through a Mass,” said Needleman of the CD. “The tempos of the songs vary from high energy to calm and reverent. . . . You won’t get bored listening to it.”
Listeners will discover gathering hymns, psalms, an Easter echo sequence, a recessional song and more, all inspired, said Needleman, by his work in the archdiocese.
“I have a huge passion for the Mass and the liturgy — we can find so much beauty within the liturgy — and music is such an awesome part of that,” said Needleman, a member of Prince of Peace Parish in Olathe. He works with youth music ministry there.
He hopes that one day these songs will work their way into the pages of hymnals.
The new CD was released Jan. 27 through World Library Publications, a Catholic publishing company whose parent company is J.S. Paluch, based in Franklin Park, Illinois.
The company picked up an earlier CD, but this is the first one it has worked with from beginning to end, said Needleman, and he is excited to start work on another project.
This was the first release he didn’t have to finance himself.
“I was able to just show up to the studio and just be an artist,” he said.
But it goes far deeper than that.
“This company believed in me enough to want to do a project with me, so it gave me the confidence to be bold in my writing and be bold in my messages,” said Needleman. “Having their tutelage meant everything I was going to be doing was going to be 100-percent accurate to the church’s teaching.”
Needleman was thrilled when the first copies of the CD arrived, especially because he’d been working on the songs for a few years.
“To see that all come to the final product is really cool,” he said. “I don’t know how to describe it other than it takes you back. You can’t help but be proud of what you’ve come up with, knowing you’ve pulled hours and hours of energy and laid out your heart completely, and it’s all right there.”
Needleman got involved in music in high school, and things took off from there.
The band has gained a large fan base among many within and beyond the archdiocese.
In fact, the music is receiving national attention. One of the songs Needleman wrote is going to be the theme song nationally for Catholic HEART Workcamp.
And the band was recently chosen as the featured artist at a Catholic radio station in Ohio with a large syndicated listener base.
And, of course, the band continues to make an impact on the music and faith lives of young people here in the archdiocese through its CDs and many live performances.
One such performance is coming up Feb. 22 at the junior high rally at Camp Tekakwitha.
“What an amazing gift Mikey and his band are to this archdiocese!” said Angie Bittner, rural youth outreach coordinator, whose office has collaborated with the band on several rural outreach events.
“They’re able to balance rock-star status with their genuine, fun and caring personalities,” said Bittner.
“As a result,” she added, “adults and kids desire to be around them and participate in prayer through their music, which ultimately brings everyone closer to Christ.”