By Lori Szepelak
WESTFIELD – With spoken words and poetry, Jose Gonzalez, a.k.a. Koderedd, has created an inspirational album, “The Rebirth,” that he hopes will inspire individuals of all ages.
Gonzalez noted in an interview with Reminder Publications on a recent Sunday morning at St. Mary’s Church on Bartlett Street that his “past had to happen” so he could experience his own rebirth.
“‘The Rebirth’ is my personal journey, first from moving away from the church and then the bridge to reconnecting to the church,” he said.
Gonzalez was a former member of the hip hop group in the 1980’s, Mass Hurrikanes, and at that time, he said he was “young and naïve” and didn’t put much thought into what the group was saying in its lyrics.
“I didn’t see anything wrong with the music I was producing until I heard a little boy singing my lyrics,” he said. “I realized at that moment there was nothing good about what I was rapping about, but that in fact the words I was rapping shouldn’t be coming out of such a young boy’s mouth or for that matter anyone’s mouth including mine.”
That was the moment Gonzalez, now 40, felt “spirit” descend on him and his music and faith took a 360-degree turn.
“I am now on a new path to change not only the way people view rap music but to be an influential role model to our youth,” he said.
As part of that path, Gonzalez and his wife Gloritza and Tim Hourihan, St. Mary’s youth minister, have started The Upper Room on Monday nights in the parish center. Gonzalez and his wife are core team members who assist Hourihan in planning weekly programs. The high school youth ministry leads discussions on faith through both God’s sacred word and tradition.
“The Upper Room helps teens understand God’s word,” he added. “Teens say they go to church and are bored. We explain to them that when you don’t understand what is being said you can put walls up. We are here to help teens relate in a way that makes sense to them in their daily lives.”
Gonzalez is also the father of three daughters, Skyemarie, Arianna and Nyasia, so he understands what today’s youth is thinking.
“When we understand God’s word, we give more and we receive,” he said.
Gonzalez has also launched “Every Step Matters” (ESM), which is a mobile music ministry that uses hip hop and the spoken word to praise and worship God.
“We all need to reach for God and I do it through this music,” he said. “ESM will go out to the community – where ever the message is requested.”
Gonzalez also provides daily inspirational messages on Facebook at KODEREDD1.
“I have come a long way with the grace and glory of our God by my side and I give thanks and praise to the Lord for giving me the opportunity to express my faith through music,” he said.
Gonzalez added that he hopes the album will “touch the lives of those who will take the time to listen to not only my words but the words the Holy Spirit influenced me to say.”
Gonzalez noted that his life “is completed changed” and his intention for “The Rebirth” is to “represent the passion I feel to continue following in the path of our savior Jesus Christ.”
For more information on Gonzalez and “The Rebirth,” visit www.koderedd.com
or email him at firstname.lastname@example.org. The Rebirth can be downloaded on ITunes (KodeRedd). The cost of the album is $12. Gonzalez is also on Twitter: @josekodered.
For information on St. Mary’s The Upper Room, visit www.stmarysupperroom.com