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...the Evolution of THIS Worship Leader: The Beginning...


Hi. My name is Benita Washington, but I didn't start as Benita Washington. First I was Benita Jones. This is the story of my evolution....

Growing up, I realize now, that my family was "pseudo-musical." You know, most singers come from families that sing and play various instruments; but not me. I mean, we listened to music on Saturdays while cleaning house; we listened on Sundays as we got ready for church service; we even listened during the week as we prepared for school or just riding in the car. My mother (who is not a singer) used to direct the youth choir at church and was always a faithful member of the soprano section. My sister and brother sang in the choir and even participated as lead soloists from time to time (but they will tell you they aren't "singers"). My father's contribution was to expose me to a healthy dose of blues that I have come to love over the years. In all this I stii maintain that my family is "pseudo-musical." My brother eventually ventured into producing and rapping during the mid to late 80's and early 90's, and gradually over the years my mom and sister both are less active in the music ministry. My family loves music- it's just never been anyone's profession, til me...

I was a bit of an anomaly. My mom frequently tells the story of how she sang at the top of her lungs all during her pregnancy with me. She sang at home, in the car, on the job. And once I was born, she had laryngitis for 6 months. She lovingly tells everyone that "the Lord took her voice" and gave it to me :). Quiet as it's kept, I kinda love that story. I can always remember singing. As a small child, I sang under the direction of my mother in the L.L. Ruffin Choir (you know... like the sunbeams only bearing the name of our then pastor). I can remember singing in the bathtub, " I found love on a two way street and lost it on a lonley highway!" And when my father's job (he was in the army) took us to Fort Dix, NJ, I can remember wanting to be in a certain talent show put on to benefit Sickle Cell Anemia awareness.

I was seven. I told my mom I wanted to sing. She was perplexed, "sing what?" I remember it clear as day. I sang "I Am Love" by Jennifer Holiday. The night of the show I had to sing it twice becaue the audience refused to believe such a little girl had such a big voice. That was the beginning.

After that, our weekends were filled with traveling and singing, in different states, at every church that would have me for every type of event imagineable. Sometimes I loved it and sometimes I didn't. As I grew, my parents sought every avenue to hone my gift from vocal coaches to piano lessons. I even did a brief stint as a nightclub act (with my very own manager and band) when I was ten years old. I've had lots of opportunities and sang on many stages with many great artists. But the most profound thing I remember about that time was telling my dad while I practiced at home to Whitney Houston, that I believed I had a higher call on my life. One that wouldn't allow me to sing secular songs, but one that would require me to live a life consecrated to God, to will and to do His good pleasure. This was just the beginning....

"Do not despise these small beginnings, for the LORD rejoices to see the work begin..."

~Zechariah 4:10 NLT

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