09/07/11 — Local worship leader releasing CD

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Local worship leader releasing CD

By Phyllis Moore
Published in News on September 7, 2011 1:46 PM

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Matt Bartlett, worship leader at Whitley Church and The Bridge, is releasing his first Christian rock EP later this week. A free concert to celebrate the CD, containing five songs written by Bartlett, will be held at Whitley on Friday night.

Landon Bartlett is only 8 months old, but he already has a testimony to share, though for now, he's using his dad, Matt Bartlett and his new CD as his outlet.

And to celebrate the release of that new CD, Bartlett, worship leader at Whitley Church and The Bridge, is holding a free concert Friday.

But it was his son's birth that inspired Bartlett, in part, to record the extended play CD, as well as write one of the five songs.

Matt and his wife of seven years, Leigh Ann, were given a due date of Feb. 28 for their first child. In early January, following a Thursday night service, Bartlett had joked, "I guess we'll get another month of sleep."

Their sleepless nights, though, were just beginning.

Three days later, on Jan. 7, their son was born, weighing just 4 pounds 9 ounces. He spent 21 days in the hospital, his parents holding vigil and relying on their faith throughout.

"Psalm 27, God gave me that chapter, I will never forget," Matt said. "It talks about the Lord is my light and my salvation.

"I put that scripture above his crib when he was in the incubator -- 'Psalm 27' -- the nurses were looking it up. It was really cool how God was using my little guy already."

His wife spent the entire time at Wake Med in Raleigh, never leaving their child's side, Bartlett said.

"What she did for him throughout that whole process ...," he said. "My wife is one of the strongest people I know, especially with everything she went through with him coming here."

And through the whole experience, he said, many prayers went up for the family -- prayers that were definitely felt.

"He has no health problems, nothing," Bartlett said. "In one week, we saw him go from ICU to almost being ready to go home. ... It stretched our faith because we didn't know at first what was going to happen."

Today, Bartlett says, Landon and his wife are "my world. I love being a dad. To me it's one of the greatest privileges as a man I can have.

"I want to imprint to Landon first and foremost to serve God. I want God's will for his life every day," he said.

And the experience has also made him realize the importance of God's will in his own life.

"I have been closer to the Lord this year than I think I would have been just because of life's circumstances," he said. "I told someone, if that's what it took -- because we're always growing -- then thank God it happened."

Having a supportive church family was also priceless.

Matt, 28, and Leigh Ann, a pet groomer, were instantly drawn to the "one church with two locations" -- Whitley off U.S. 70 near Princeton and The Bridge, introduced as a Thursday night service option four years ago, first in the Cloth Barn shopping plaza on Ash Street and now on Berkeley Boulevard near the former Delmus Hardware.

"The atmosphere here and at Whitley was very exciting," he said. "We do our best, I think every weekend, to make it a celebration time on who God is but also preach the Word at the same time. ... It's a very exciting atmosphere, very life-changing.

"What drew us was being around people our own age and the music," he says. "I met Jared (Grantham, student ministries pastor and worship leader) at a Christmas party and asked, 'Hey, if you ever want to have someone lead worship..."

The seed was planted, and Bartlett, who has worked with music and youth since he was 18 years old, wound up being a "semi-volunteer" for about a year before getting offered the job as worship leader three years ago. He also performs with his band, the Matt Bartlett Band.

"Pastor Ferrell (Hardison) and my dad (Doug Bartlett of First Pentecostal Holiness Church of Mount Olive) are great friends. They offered me the job and my dad said, 'You need to go for it.' I've been loving it ever since," he said.

Now he is releasing his first extended play, "Rise," which features five songs that he wrote.

It contains songs that he typically performs at church, though his inspiration varies.

"Sometimes it's a sermon, which can come from Pastor Ferrell; it could also be just in a private prayer, the Lord just drops something in my spirit," he said. "So for me it's pretty random ... I write about what (the church) is going through and that's going on in my life."

Like the situation with Landon, prompting one of the tracks, "Psalm 27."

The concert will be held at 7 p.m. Friday. Doors will open at 6 p.m.

Copies of the release will be available for sale at the church bookstore, on iTunes, and at Christian Soldier and RedPhish Music.