By DJ Dave Hoffenberg
There’s not many shows where you can mix rap with uplifting spiritual messages. On Saturday, Nov. 3 at 6 p.m., a show like that is at Woodstock’s Little Theater. Local preacher Nate Mispel is bringing Hope for Vermont there. Mispel’s speaking at the event and Blake Whiteley from Indiana and his drummer Austin Ware from Nashville will be providing the inspirational music.
Mispel said it’s going to be an experience you’ll never forget. “What we’ve been praying for, and believing in God for, is the addiction that’s taken over our country, and the suicides, and so many other things that have been taking people left and right. The biggest thing people want to know is that they have a purpose and they’re loved. With this, people will encounter an experience with God they’ve never encountered before. With that will come a feeling that they’ve never had before. They’ll see that they have a purpose and there’s meaning to their lives.” This is the sixth year Mispel has done this and he’s really excited they were able to get Whiteley because this is what they’ve been striving for.
Mispel and Whiteley met through Clayton Jennings, who is an international evangelist, and have built a good friendship. Mispel said the best way to describe Whiteley is, “Adrenaline in a hoodie. He has more energy and more fire than anyone I know. Not only is he talented, gifted and anointed at what he does, but he’s very good in getting the crowd involved and making it a great night for everyone.” Whiteley (28) said, “Nate and I have developed a relationship and God has opened the door and the opportunity.”
Whitely and I spoke about him finding God and spreading that message through his music.
Whiteley was born and raised in Indianapolis. “I come from a split household. My mom got custody and we ended up living with her for the first 10 years of my life. Midway through, I got to see my dad and that’s how we got the exposure with Christ. I didn’t really understand the difference between going to church on Sunday and having an actual relationship with God until I started living with him.”
Whiteley had his own experience and encounter with Christ. “I was actually a secular artist before I was a Christian artist.” He has an amazing story that shows the leap of faith one can take with Christ.
He started writing music when he was six and it stuck with him until his freshman year in college. “I dropped out of high school and went back to get my diploma. I went to junior college for basketball because I thought I was done with the music thing. I realized my heart was still attached to music. I knew that’s what I needed to do, so I dropped out of college, bought a $100 mic and set up a studio in my dad’s office. I made a mixed tape, put in on YouTube and calls started coming in from all over the United States and different countries to come and perform.”
Whiteley was doing Wiz Khalifa’s after-party at Auburn when he was 19. He was up on stage, two songs in of an eight-song set. “I had this encounter with Christ. Basically, I knew I was in the wrong place. I wasn’t where I was supposed to be. I cut the mic, gave it back to the DJ and walked off the stage.” He basically left right there and went home. He completely walked away from everything he had going on in music. “I gave my life to Christ and I’ve been sold out ever since.” That was in 2011.
Whiteley continued, “It was the scariest decision I ever made, but you don’t understand faith until God gives you the courage to make that first step. Then you see his hand in your life. It’s not easy sometimes, especially in the world we live in today but you see his work and it makes the decision easier the next time.”
He has no set way for writing music. Sometimes he’ll be driving with his dad and something will pop in his head and he’ll write a song right there in 10 minutes. He’ll write about life experiences that have happened to him or people close to him. “Sometimes it’s just about God’s glory and how great he is.”
Whiteley looks up to Lecrae, who is an American Christian hip-hop recording artist. “I love what he has done for guys like me. I’m different. I’m stuck on this thing that the world already has that one person. God wants to use you and be used. I’m always trying to come up with my own unique sound. I’m just a vessel wanting to bring Jesus to the world.”
Whiteley loves this. “It’s an adrenaline rush. I no longer have to cuss or bring up drugs or sex. Anything the world tries to promote to bring a crowd out. I think it’s amazing that God has allowed me to have this platform and elevated me to this point. Obviously, we’re not done, but to see a crowd come out, not promoting those things that would ultimately hurt or kill somebody. I’m just giving the hope of Christ and I get to make an impact on a kid’s life or even a parent’s life.”