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Elmwood Drive: Trusting With All Your Heart

By Josh Maloni, Photos by Matt Brown

 The Bible says in Proverbs 3:5-6 to “Trust in the Lord with all your heart, and do not lean on your own understanding. In all your ways acknowledge Him, and He will make your paths straight.” But most musicians are taught that, if they are to become rock gods, then they must become the God of their own lives – and use their talent for self-gain. 1 Peter 4:10 reads, “As each one has received a special gift, employ it in serving one another as good stewards of the manifold grace of God.” Musicians, however, are prompted to value image over substance, and motivated to do whatever it takes to make their names famous. Ezekiel 28 says Lucifer, God’s chief musician, had everything going for him; he was dressed in splendor and strolled in magnificence. He was blessed with talent and invited to share it before God, himself. That wasn’t enough for him, though. Lucifer wanted glory and honor that belong only to God. When he was cast from Heaven, he was told, “Your beauty went to your head; you corrupted wisdom by using it to get worldly fame.”
     Like Lucifer, many famous musicians have suffered a great fall at the hands of ego. But some bands, such as Buffalo’s Elmwood Drive, have learned that, to effectively serve God’s kingdom, and not falter alongside self-centered, worldly acts, they have to take a different approach. They must relinquish the one thing we, as humans, hate to give up: control. Early in the recording of “Worship Songs,” Elmwood Drive saw firsthand the merits of Proverbs 3:5-6. The band discovered the rewards of doing things God’s way, and not man’s way. When the group’s producer moved to New York City, Elmwood Drive was faced with a seemingly insurmountable financial challenge.
      “We were like, ‘Oh, we’ll just go down there,’ ” lead singer Corey Coogan said. “Needless to say, after talking to (producer Joseph Secchiaroli), and figuring out studio costs and everything, it was going to be, I believe, a little over $10,000 to be able to travel with the seven-piece band down there, and record and do pre-production and then finish the album. So we had no idea what we were going to do.
      “It was literally down to the wire. About a week before we were going to go down to New York City, we didn’t have a vehicle. We didn’t have all the funds, and we didn’t know what we were going to do for food. Two of us quit their jobs to go and record. And we just said we were going to do it.”
     Elmwood Drive decided to trust in God, and not lean on members’ own understanding. “Low and behold, God obviously came through,” Coogan said. “A person let us borrow a van and we got a trailer. The money – we still went down with about half of it, and when we were there we had a donate button on our website. And people were just consistently donating, and we were able to come up with the funds to pay for everything. “It was kind of a miracle that we were able to record everything. If it wasn’t for God’s hand moving, I don’t think we’d have been able to do it.” Elmwood Drive relinquished control, brought the situation before God, and watched as He opened up doors no man could open. “We believe that if our heart’s in the right place, than God is going to take care of everything else,” Coogan said. A seven-piece band, Elmwood Drive has God-given talent and all of the natural tools to “make it” in the music industry. Buffalo United “Rise” organizer Matt Crouch said Coogan, “has the best male worship vocal I’ve heard in a long time. He’s that good.” Fame and fortune could be attained through secular means. But with “Worship Songs,” it’s clear Elmwood Drive is not making music for material gain. “Our goal with the album is to kind of approach the music world in a different angle,” Coogan said. “Our goal is really to approach it more as a ministry rather than as a typical band. So, instead of trying to come up with a name for an album, we just called it ‘Worship Songs,’ because that’s, basically, what our band is trying to do. (We’re trying to be) a ministry that can be utilized by other ministries and other churches in the Buffalo area, and, obviously, Western New York, and, hopefully, across the world – wherever God’s hand leads us.” By putting God first, and pride last, Elmwood Drive has charted a course for true success. “As lowly as we are, He’s able to use us through this gift that He’s given us,” Coogan said. “Every time we get discouraged, we just look back at the letters that we have from some of the youth that we’ve touched and some of the people that we’ve been in contact with, and just realize that there’s obviously a bigger purpose for what our ministry is, and that God’s using us,” he added.