• Bryon Harris

Bible Belt Blues - 'I Pledge Allegiance to My Jesus'

Review by Sylvie Marie & Staff

Paula and Harold Vega Vondenstein, of Bible Belt Blues, view themselves as Evangelist songwriters, ready to evangelize the world one song at a time. With a sound that is distinctly their own and lyrics that are bold and brave, the Vondensteins have dared to tread where many other Christian songwriters have dared not tread: to address sin, repentance, and salvation in their songs. 2019 was an amazing year for Bible Belt Blues with the release of their two Christian albums, “I’m Not Ashamed to Be a Christian” and “My God, My God” to winning the coveted 2019 Josie Music Award for Gospel/Christian Duo. Amazingly, twenty two of their songs have already received radio airplay (Cross 104’s Gospel Blues Hour Syndicated Radio Program, WQFX Gospel Radio, Country Blast Radio’s Multi-Genre Hour, and WNIR Radio). They have charted month after month on WNIR Radio, a station known for popular, secular music, and were the inspiration behind the radio's new "Spirit & Soul" inspirational and Christian Radio show. Bible Belt Blues was recently nominated for Song of the Year with the Gulf Coast Gospel Music Awards for their song, “Down the Rabbit Hole” as well as a nomination for Ministry of the Year with The Best of Mississippi Awards for 2020.

The "Pledge of Allegiance," as we know it today, was first noted in NYC schools in 1892 as a pledge to the flag and the Republic. Congress adopted the Pledge in 1942. On Flag Day, in 1954, "One nation under God" was added. What is found on the internet today, and in society, is protest and conflict over pledging allegiance to God in our schools and public places. So it is with their signature boldness that Bible Belt Blues proclaim their allegiance to Jesus in their song, 'I Pledge Allegiance to My Jesus.'" This is a duo who does not cower to political correctness.

The song commences with Harold Vega Vondenstein strumming reverberate guitar chords. He sings the first verse straight out of the gate. "I pledge allegiance to my Jesus. The Savior of my soul. To trust Him and obey Him. To relinquish all control." There is no interference from the music. The guitar rings in the background, bringing the pledge front and center. Light marching beats feel like a tap on your shoulder, a reminder of the history of the pledge. An intentional double stop guitar solo picks up on the soulful melody. The musical landscape has wide open spaces to create a deeply contemplative vibe. The highlight of the song is at the end when Harold's blues vocalese, reminiscent of free form chant, reveals a reverence that evolves into a wailing that comes from deep within.

The lyrics and concept of the piece were conceived and written by Paula Vega Vondenstein. In the first verse, Paula begins by using the word "trust." Without trust, a pledge is weak. When you truly trust the Lord, you can "relinquish all control." In the second verse, she makes it clear that the holy pledge of allegiance is about the Savior who "died for me" and "took my place on Calvary." Paula helps listeners understand the difference between a secular pledge and a holy pledge. She reminds us that you can stand up for your faith, and you can pledge allegiance to "Him who bore all my sins." Paula has a way of finding the places where faith has been watered down, and she offers a lyrical path of growth: restoration and redemption.

"I Pledge Allegiance to My Jesus" gives us something to think about this memorial day weekend and in the days to come. During this global pandemic, many people are struggling to grab onto something and to trust in the future again. They are feeling out of control and anxious. In "I Pledge Allegiance to My Jesus", Bible Belt Blues offer a very bold path: trust in Jesus, pledge your allegiance, and relinquish, not some, but all of your control.

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