"We have a chance to change the world in some tiny way," said Hsu, 25, of Schaumburg. "This generation is growing up disillusioned and doesn't want to be preached to. We're about positive life change."
About 50,000 copies of the group's self-titled debut CD have been sold since its May release. The same CD was released in November as a remix, which adds more upbeat rhythms to the original songs to appeal to the club scene. The four-member band is working on its second album.
"We have an eclectic sound," said band member Carlton Coleman, 21, of Rockford. "There's something for everyone. We call it life music."
Contemporary Christian Magazine compared the group's harmonizing sound, soulful vocals and driving beat to a combination of Boyz II Men and Janet Jackson. But as the band explains on its CD jacket, the music is "urban, funk, soul, R&B, hip hop, house, gospel, rock, pop, noise."
The variety of sounds comes from each member's different experiences and common vision. Hsu grew up with his missionary parents in Hong Kong, then moved to the United States to graduate from Wheaton College and become an independent video producer. Jason Gregory, 27, of Elgin was a teacher in Elgin, playing in alternative rock bands in his spare time.
Because his father was a minister of music, Nathan Clair, 22, of Schaumburg grew up singing and playing piano in church. Coleman used to accompany his mother and sisters in a church choir.
The songs, which are all written by the band members, talk about life issues such as disillusionment, moral relativism, forgiveness, love and racism.
Church of Rhythm has its roots in the northwest suburbs, where in 1992 Hsu brought together the three other members to form a group that would be relevant to Christian and mainstream audiences. They all attended Willow Creek Community Church in South Barrington.
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