It was Saturday afternoon and Kids Incorporated – Kenny, Ana, Haylie, Nicole, and Jared – were getting ready for their show. They were about to head out on stage, when Flip, the manager of The P*lace, came in to the dressing room.
“What’s up, Flip?” asked Haylie.
Flip replied, “There’s a girl out there. She wants to talk to all of you between sets.”
“Girl?” Jared said as he ran his fingers through his hair. “Is she pretty?”
“Only you can answer that one,” Flip said.
“What does she want to talk to us about?” asked Kenny.
“Not sure,” Flip answered. “But she’ll be waiting.”
Five minutes later, the band took to the stage amid cheers from the audience, singing the tune “I Just Want to Celebrate” to start their afternoon show.
When they were done, the band came down off the stage and went over to Flip at the counter.
“Where’s this girl?” Ana asked, as Jared popped a breath mint into his mouth.
“Over there.” Flip pointed to where the person in question was.
The girl was sitting down alone at a table. She was about thirteen, maybe fourteen years old, with brunette hair, and nicely dressed. She had just opened a very thick book to read.
The Kids went over to her. “Hi there,” Ana said. “Flip said you wanted to talk to us?”
The girl looked up from her book. “Oh, hello,” she said politely, with a slight Southern drawl. “My name is Amy. So you’re Kids Incorporated?”
“We are,” Kenny said. He introduced the others to Amy.
“I liked that song you just did,” Amy said.
“Thanks,” Jared said, looking for a possible opening to a possible date.
“I saw Kim Boyce perform that song when I saw her last year at Spirit Fest in Monterey with my youth group,” Amy said.
“Kim who?” asked Haylie.
“That song was kind of an oldie,” Kenny said. “It was from the 1960’s.”
“Really?” Amy replied. The Kids looked at each other. Maybe Amy heard one version of the same song, one that was different from what they just did.
“What can we do for you?” Ana asked.
“What are you doing on Sunday? Tomorrow?”
“Nothing really,” said Haylie. “Why?”
Amy replied, “Well, I wanted to invite you to a show tomorrow. My church’s youth group is having a kind of a combination outreach and concert at the park tomorrow.”
“What kind of concert?”
“A rock concert,” Amy said. “Me and some friends of mine got a band together and we’re using it to reach out to teenagers in the area and tell them about Jesus Christ.”
“Really?” Kenny asked.
“I thought the church didn’t like rock and roll?” asked Jared.
“Some churches don’t,” Amy said. “Ours does. We’re very open minded.”
“Which church is that?” Nicole asked.
“People’s Bible Fellowship,” Amy replied. “It’s next to my school, American Eagle Christian.” The Kids heard of both the church and the school. Both were on the other side of town. “I want you to see our show and get your opinion of it.”
“Okay,” Ana said. “We won’t make any promises, but we’ll see if we’re able to make it.”
“Fair enough,” Amy said. “Our show starts around one o’clock. See you there.” Amy closed her big book. It was The Bible.
“Wait, Amy,” Jared said, as he went over to her. “Maybe after your concert, we could go on a date, maybe to a movie?”
“I’ll think about it,” Amy said.
They watched as she exited The P*lace, as Jared said looked upward and quietly said “Thank you!” before rejoining the others.
“Concert in the park, put on by the church?” asked Haylie.
“I’ve seen it done before,” Kenny said. “Old time church revivals. The pastor or the priest puts up a tent, a lot of people show up, and before you know it, everyone is getting saved, and singing old church hymns at over a hundred decibels.”
“I’ve heard about those tent revivals,” Ana said. “But she said this was a concert.”
“Maybe they’re trying something new,” Nicole said.
“Sounds like what they’re trying to do,” Kenny said. “So, should we go to this concert?” They all nodded in agreement.
They did their next set for the crowd at The P*lace. After the show, they made plans to see a Sunday church concert in the park.
Sunday afternoon came, and The Kids all headed down to the park. They wondered what kind of concert it would be.
“Full out gospel choir?” Nicole asked.
“Maybe,” Kenny said. “Maybe even a fire and brimstone preacher?”
“I doubt that,” Jared said. “These are kids our age. You can’t scare kids into church.”
“Did any of us go to church this morning?” Ana asked. They all looked at each other. Kenny and Nicole raised their hands.
“My grandmother told me, whatever you do the rest of the week,” Kenny said, “make sure you go to church on Sunday and give thanks. Or ask for forgiveness.”
The park was close to both the church and the school where Amy attended. Once at the park, the Kids saw a bunch of kids their own age, along with some young adults, gathered around a makeshift stage. They could see a drum set, a keyboard setup, a couple of guitars resting on stands, and microphone stands all around.
The Kids had a somewhat uneasy feeling. “Look familiar?” asked Kenny.
“We’ll know when they come out on stage,” Ana said.
An adult came through the crowd, handing out program flyers to the audience members. The Kids took a couple of them and quickly read it over. The name of the band was at the top of the program in big capital letters – HIGHER CALLING. A set list of songs were there, a majority of which they never heard of.
A couple of minutes later, the crowd began to settle down, as a man in a dress shirt and pants came up on stage.
“How’s everyone doing?” he called out. The crowd responded with a big cheer. “I’m Henry Morrow, the youth pastor here at People’s Bible Fellowship. Welcome to our church’s youth outreach. First, let us pray.” Everyone in the crowd bowed their heads, as Henry said a prayer, giving thanks to God for letting this event happen, and concluded with a hearty “Amen.”
“We’re very glad you come out today,” Pastor Henry said to the crowd. “We are here to bring praise to our Lord Jesus Christ, and show today’s youth that God loves us all. And we’re going to do it in a way we never tried before.” The crowd cheered some more. “So without further ado, I’d like to introduce to you….HIGHER CALLING!”
The crowd cheered as the band came out on stage. Someone went behind the drums, another went behind the keyboards, and yet another came out with a bass guitar. Three others followed, each carrying a saxophone, a trombone, and a trumpet, respectively. They all looked they were in the same age as the Kids themselves.
Then five more came out, including Amy. Two boys, three girls, all in the same age range, between twelve and fourteen years old. One of the girls picked up a guitar from one of the stands. Amy was wearing a leopard skin print jacket, jeans, and a gold colored blouse.
“How’re y’all doing?!” Amy called out to the crowd. The audience responded. “Let’s rock for Jesus!”
Kenny, Ana, Haylie, Jared and Nicole all looked at each other, and they were thinking the same thing. They’re copying us. But the horn section was definitely original.
The show started with a rousing trumpet intro, and the teens up front started singing a tune called “The Trumpet of Jesus.” For the next half hour or so, this seemingly holy version of Kids Incorporated rocked the stage and the crowd loved it. The real Kids Incorporated watched as they enjoyed the song and the Christian message behind each one. Some songs they recognized – their own version of “I Just Want To Celebrate”, plus “Find A Way”, but most of them they didn’t. According to the set list on the program, the songs were “Rocketown”, “The Immigrant’s Daughter”, “Dancing With Danger”, “Angels”, and “He Came He Saw He Conquered.”
The set ended as the crowd cheered their approval. Amy led her friends off the stage as Kids Incorporated made their way to her. Amy quickly spotted them.
“Hi there!” she called out, as she went up to them. “Well, what did you think?”
Being the most senior member of the group, Kenny stepped forward. “Your band sounded pretty good,” he said diplomatically.
“What about the rest of the band?” Ana asked.
“Let me introduce you to them,” Amy said. Her bandmates came over to her, and she introduced them to Kids Incorporated. Michael was dark haired, with wire rimmed glasses perched on his nose; Maggie was blonde, sported a fancy chapeau on her head and was their guitar player; Keith had brown, somewhat unkept, curly hair; and Sandy was auburn haired. They all exchanged hellos.
Amy continued, “We also have Eddie on the keyboards, Rick is on bass guitar, and our drummer is Louie. And our horn section is Phil, Ken, and J.D.”
“So, did you like it?” asked Michael.
“Actually, we loved the music,” Haylie said. “And the songs were great too.”
“But can we nitpick?” asked Ana.
“Sure,” said Amy.
“It looks like you kind of, well,” said Haylie, “there’s no other way to say this…”
“You ripped us off,” said Nicole.
There was an uneasy quiet as Higher Calling looked at Kids Incorporated.
Jared then said to Amy, “I suppose a date is out of the question?”
Amy finally said to The Kids, “I figured you would say something like that.”
“So we’re right,” said Ana.
“In a manner of speaking,” Amy said back. “Me and my friends have seen some of your shows at The P*lace, and you guys are great. So when my church youth group was looking for a way to reach out to the area youth, we saw how well your idea of a band worked, so we went with that concept.”
The Kids let that reasoning sink in.
Amy continued, “We’re sorry if we stepped on any toes, but apparently, your way works. We’ve seen how the audiences at The P*lace responds to you. We went with that, and you’ve seen how the kids here responded. They were cheering, and not just for the music. They heard the word of Christ through us. That’s all that matters.”
The Kids pondered that. Kenny finally said, “I guess that’s all well and good. And I believe what you’re doing here is very right.”
“So what are we saying?” Nicole asked Kenny. “It’s all good?”
“I have no problem with it,” Kenny replied. The Kids nodded in agreement. Higher Calling may have copied their way, but it was a blueprint made for success.
“I think Kenny’s right,” Haylie said. “I don’t see a problem.”
There was a sudden commotion amongst crowd. A couple of members of Higher Calling looked over to where the commotion was coming from.
“I think someone does have a problem with it,” Maggie said. She gestured toward the crowd, which was beginning to proverbially part like the Red Sea.
Both Kids Incorporated and Higher Calling looked over to the crowd. Another group of people, pretty much all adults, were coming forward, and they didn’t look very happy. Some of the carried signs that said “ROCK IS EVIL!” and “DOWN WITH THE DEVIL’S MUSIC!”
“Oh, no, not them,” grumbled Keith.
“Who are these people?” asked Jared.
“Just your average every day hard line fundamentalists,” replied Amy, “who believe that rock and roll is from the devil and has no place in the church, or anywhere else, for that matter.”
“Oh, those kind of people.”
The anti-rock music followers came through and stopped in front of both Kids Incorporated and Higher Calling. One of them, a woman in her mid to late-30’s, stepped forward. She looked like her face had overdosed on both Cover Girl and Maybelline.
“We are here to stop this unnecessary and unwanted foray into rock and roll!” she announced. “Rock and roll has no part being in the church!”
“And you are?” Ana asked.
Amy leaned over to her and said, “That’s Cammie Raye. She runs a Christian coalition group that says rock music is bad. In fact, they believe that if kids like it, it has no business being part of the church.”
“Does she have kids of her own?”
“Lucky them,” Haylie said.
Cammie Raye continued her anti-rock diatribe. “This music is from the devil and is leading our children into sin! We are here to stop this travesty from taking our children away.”
“Excuse me,” Ana said, stepping up to her, “I sing rock and roll songs and I’m only fourteen. Do I look like I’m going to hell?”
“YES!” Cammie Raye said back in defiance.
Ana just looked at her. “Do you even like kids at all?”
“I’m trying to save their souls!”
“From what?” asked Kenny. “Having fun?”
“You do know what fun is, right?” asked Nicole.
Suddenly, someone yelled out, “THIS IS FUN!”
Everyone looked at the stage, and Kids Incorporated saw Higher Calling had a guest on guitar.
“Jared!” the Kids exclaimed.
There was Jared, jamming away on a guitar, along with Maggie. Jared then shouted out into a microphone, “Let’s forget about the world! Let’s just rock and roll!”
That seemed like a good idea. The other members of both bands ran to the stage and started to play rock and roll music, and loudly at that.
On the microphone, Amy called out, “The Bible says to make a joyful noise to the Lord. So let’s make a noise that will not only that our Lord can hear, but also drown out the evil in the world!”
Ana leaned over and added into the microphone, “And that includes everyone who doesn’t like rock and roll!”
Soon both Kids Incorporated and Higher Calling were jamming on stage, though it was mostly Higher Calling doing the singing and playing instruments, because they knew all the songs. A joyful noise of rock and roll music got everyone in the crowd going, as they all sang “Why Should The Devil Have All The Good Music?”, as Cammie Raye and her followers took their protests and left.
The song ended, and the audience enthusiastically cheered their approval. As both Kids Incorporated and Higher Calling acknowledged the crowd, Jared subtly leaned over to Amy, and said, “About that date…”
A couple of days later, Kids Incorporated showed up for rehearsal at The P*lace. Flip was waiting for them.
“Heard about your Sunday concert in the park,” Flip said.
“It was incredible!” said Kenny. “All those kids rocking out, and they didn’t realize they were actually going to church.”
“I know.” Flip pointed at a girl seated at a table. It was Amy. The Kids went over to her and said hi to her.
“Thanks for helping us out,” Amy said to them. “Our outreach was a success.”
“Thanks,” Kenny said. “I’m glad we could help your church out.”
“Do you have any more concerts planned?” asked Haylie.
“We do, but there’s going to be a change,” Amy replied. “We just found out we have to change our name. There’s a band in Washington state that’s already using the name ‘Higher Calling’, so need to find a new one.”
“How about ‘God’s Children’?” Nicole suggested.
“’Kids for God’?” said Ana.
Kenny said, “’The Holy Ones’?”
“I’ll take those under advisement,” Amy said. She then continued by saying, “I like what your band does here. We’re both basically doing the same thing. We’re using the music we play to reach out to kids. Our goal is just different than yours, that’s all.”
“Well, I hope you’re successful with what you’re doing,” Ana said, “and we’re glad that we could help out.”
The Kids and Amy chatted a little more, before Amy had to leave. Before she did, Jared asked her, “What are you doing Friday night?”
“I already have plans,” Amy said.
“And a date?”
“His name is Vince.”
“Shot down,” Kenny said quietly, though Jared heard him.
As Amy left The P*lace, Jared looked upward to the heavens and wondered aloud, “Are You sure?”
The others all said in unison, “He’s sure!”