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Birmingham’s Vann Burchfield uses music to glorify Godcomment (0)

January 6, 2011

By Kristen Padilla

Being featured on the cover and inside of the world’s largest saxophone magazine, Saxophone Journal, could give any aspiring or professional saxophonist a right to brag.

But for Bessemer-native Vann Burchfield, this recognition only served as an opportunity to brag on Jesus Christ and what God has done for him.

“This is the largest, most highly publicized magazine for professional saxophonists,” said Burchfield, who has been labeled the Christian Kenny G. “Here I am in this secular magazine talking about Jesus. … God has called me and has equipped me to be a strong, bold witness for [Him].”

Throughout the seven-page interview in the November/December 2010 issue, Burchfield, who plays the soprano, alto and tenor saxophones, shares ways God has been instrumental in his 15-year career. In answering one of interviewer Thomas Erdmann’s questions, he said his music and God are inseparable.

“First, what God orders, He pays for, and second, who He calls, He equips,” Burchfield said. “I can’t separate my life from God and I can’t separate my music from God … because He’s been too good to me. … My life is full of joy and (is) complete all because the Lord has blessed me.”

And although the magazine feature is just the latest of many honors he has received over the years — such as beating Kenny G’s Guinness World Record for circular breathing and playing at the White House and the Alabama governor’s mansion — his greatest honor has been glorifying God through his music.

“God puts all of us here on this earth for a reason,” Burchfield said. “When I became a born-again Christian, I knew then that I wanted to use my music for the purpose of lifting up the name of Jesus and glorifying my Father in heaven. God has been very gracious to me, very good to me, very merciful to me to take that dream and make it a reality.”

Because of that calling, he plays in churches as much as possible. Burchfield recently played a Christmas concert at The Baptist Church at McAdory, McCalla, in Bessemer Baptist Association.

“In Vann’s presentation, he made sure you knew that he was playing for his Lord,” said Pastor Bill McCall. “[Burchfield] said, ‘I want people to know that I’m coming there to glorify God.’ That was one of the things that impressed me so much as a pastor. He was coming not to be the center of the show but that Jesus was going to be the center of the show, and he let us know that ahead of time.”

And when Burchfield isn’t on the road playing at another church, he and his wife, Teresa, can be found at Fullness Christian Fellowship, Birmingham, where they’ve been members for nine years.

“He’s a talented musician who gives his talents to the Lord,” said Pastor Bart Brookins. “It’s awesome to see how God has grown his ministry over the years.”

Brookins also noted that Burchfield continually volunteers his talents at the Birmingham Baptist Association church, whether it is playing during the worship service or giving a Christmas concert.

“I’m not always able to be at my home church, but if I’m not, I’m always out ministering at another church,” Burchfield said. “These people are here for me, and they’d do anything in the world to help me aside from church.”

While ministering at another church in the Birmingham area, the pastor made a comment that inspired the name of Burchfield’s latest album, “Blue Eyed Soul.”

“I was ministering at a black gospel church here in Birmingham, and the preacher said, ‘Mr. Vann, you are what we call a blue-eyed soul. You are a white man with blond hair and with blue eyes, but you play like a black man,’” he recalled.

The album, for which he wrote, recorded and produced every song, is his first smooth jazz album. Burchfield, who is new to the smooth jazz community, soon will be touring with his band across Europe playing in jazz venues.

But whether it is a jazz festival, corporate office event or church, Burchfield considers what he does music evangelism, proclaiming God through both music and testimony.

“I want my future to be one of more of me playing, more of God’s power and more of His anointing and to be used by God to draw all men to Him,” Burchfield said. “That’s my plan and purpose and the life that I have. I want these horns to go out to lift up the name of God more.”

For more information, visit www.vannburchfield.com.

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