Bible Belt Blues - Exclusive Music Interview
Harold and Paula Vega Vondenstein are Bible Belt Blues, a husband and wife music ministry team from Gulfport, Mississippi. Their music is both fresh and unique: bold, biblically sound lyrics wrapped in early Mississippi Bentonia blues influenced music with a bit of 70’s retro mixed in for good measure. The gritty guitar picking, hauntingly beautiful D & E minor chords, and weeping harmonica are the perfect backdrop for their full-fledged repentance and church revival songs for which they are known. Since January of 2019, the Vondensteins have released two Christian albums, “I’m Not Ashamed to Be a Christian” and “My God, My God,” that they created, recorded, mixed, mastered, and produced in their own home recording studio. To date, sixteen of their Bible Belt Blues songs have already received radio airplay, thanks to Bill and Kat Radio’s Cross 104 Gospel Blues Hour Syndicated Radio Program resulting in numerous placements on the Roots Music Report. Against all odds, Bible Belt Blues won the coveted 2019 Josie Music Award for Gospel/ Christian Duo after more than 23,000 nominations were submitted across all genres from around the globe. The Vondensteins are both humbled and honored by the doors that God has already opened for them with their music ministry.
For fans who have never heard your music, can you pick three words to describe it?! If three words just aren't enough then tell us more!!
We are Bible Belt Blues: Paula and Harold Vega Vondenstein, award winning Gospel Blues musicians from Gulfport, Mississippi. Our musical influence is unmistakably early Mississippi Bentonia blues and the lyrics I write are bold and biblically sound. We have positioned ourselves in a unique place within the Christian music genre with a sound so fresh with its wailing harmonica and gritty guitar picking seamlessly blended with our full-fledged repentance songs and songs for church revivals.
When you are writing a song, where do you draw inspiration from? Or what topics do you like to sing about?
I think of myself as an evangelist songwriter. I believe that a song with biblically sound lyrics can soften a hardened heart to be receptive to the gospel of salvation through Jesus Christ. I try to tackle deep theological truths that many wrestle with understanding and capture them in a lyric where they actually get it, memorize it, own it, and live it. I address sin, repentance, and salvation in my lyrics and often write them as a conversation between two friends or as a prayer. Instead of copying what everyone else is doing I look for what is lacking in Christian songwriting that needs to be addressed and I put my efforts there. Since I start with the lyrics first before my husband, Harold, crafts the music, the message of each song is cohesive and structured which sets the tonality for the music.
Okay, this a fun question. When you are not doing music, what else do you enjoy doing?
My husband, Harold, and I have three precious Chihuahuas: CoCo, Cody, and Casey. We love to gather them up in our car and drive to Waveland, Mississippi and let them walk the Garfield Ladner Memorial Pier (which is quite long) so they can smell the ocean and enjoy the cool breezes of the beach. When we are at home the pups love our recording sessions, especially when Harold plays his harmonica.
Can you tell us what song you've written that is the most emotional and describe the meaning behind it?
Unfortunately, Harold and I both have suicide in our families and we wanted to do something constructive to help those who are seriously depressed and contemplating suicide. We decided to write a song that spoke directly to those who are suicidal and lead them to Jesus Christ. I had never seen another suicide prevention song that had done that. In September of 2019 we launched our Suicide Prevention Campaign "Share a Song, Save a Life" for the month of September (Suicide Prevention Month) with our song, “God’s Not Through with You.” We created a platform to encourage radio stations to participate through radio airplay and for individuals to share our song through social media to help those who are seriously depressed and suicidal.
What was the first song or piece you ever wrote!?
The first song I ever wrote as the lyricist for Bible Belt Blues was "Down the Rabbit Hole." When I shared the lyrics with my husband, Harold, he responded, "I can't do that song. It's too depressing. Can't you write a happy ending?" I responded, "It's a repentance song. They need to wallow in that for a bit." Harold persisted, "I can't do that song." I responded, "Yes, you can. Own the lyrics." “Down the Rabbit Hole” was quite an accomplishment for us! Amazingly, we had created a full-fledged repentance song (which are so rare in churches and on Christian radio these days) and had added a captivating beat with special effects to cross over genres and across continents to win lost souls for Christ.
What is your dream gig? Is there a gig that you really want that would be the ultimate show for you?
Our short term dream gig would be to be invited to the White House by President Trump to do a private Revival Worship service for his staff. Our long term dream gig would be to fill a large stadium with our Bible Belt Blues Revival Concert and see thousands come to salvation through Jesus Christ.
Are you working on any new material right now or what's in the works for the upcoming year?
Bible Belt Blues is focusing on securing bookings at churches, colleges, and theatres to promote the music from our newly released two albums, "I'm Not Ashamed to Be a Christian" and "My God, My God.” Bible Belt Blues won the prestigious 2019 Josie Music Award for Gospel/ Christian Duo. Sixteen of our original songs from our two albums have already received radio airplay on Bill and Kat Radio’s Cross 104 Gospel Blues Hour Syndicated Radio Program, WQFX Power Gospel, Country Blast Radio’s Multi-Genre Hour, and on WNIR Radio’s “Roots & Wings” and “All You Need is Love” Programs.
Tell us where fans can access your music.
For more information about the Bible Belt Blues, please visit their website.