SEMINOLE – Bruce Blowers’ music and spiritual journey has taken him from Seminole, Pinellas County and around the world while singing the praises of God.
At 25, Blowers has always had a close relationship with Christ, which has helped him grow from the young standout musician to Christian rock artist. When he is not practicing with the self-entitled Bruce G. Blowers Band, he is a youth director and worship leader in St. Petersburg, while also teaching guitar lessons.
“I am wearing a lot of hats so to speak,” said Blowers jokingly. “Those hats have always changed from time to time. I have always been involved with a lot of things and I think that I would get stir crazy if I didn’t have my hand in so many facets of the music. I could see myself getting bored.”
The band consists of Blowers on lead vocals, keyboard and occasionally on guitar. Brian Wheeler is on drums, Dion Fabrizio and John McQueeny on guitar, and Michael Lee on bass. Blowers sister Brianne also sings background vocals and on occasion his older brother, Brendan, will rap in a few of the songs.
Blowers and his band played on familiar ground on Sept. 22, performing in front of loyal fans, family and friends at a free concert at First Christian Church in Seminole. For him and the band, playing not just for fans, but also for God, gives them no better feeling; it’s like being at home.
“We are all friends and we are all doing it for the right reasons,” said Blowers. “With the power of music, we can touch lives of all ages. We want to lift up the name of Christ and worship.”
For many musicians in the Seminole and Pinellas music community, Blowers has always been viewed as a child music prodigy at a very young age. However, when looking back, Blowers had a different view of his music talents. In fact, one thought that never came to mind was that he would ever be in a rock band.
“I wouldn’t refer to myself as a prodigy,” said Blowers. “One thing that set me apart was that I was mature musically at a younger age. I would play piano for hours, write songs, and listen to Mozart while also getting involved immediately in music composition and conducting at an early age.”
For Blowers’ family, music has been a gift that was passed down long before he picked up on the piano. Blowers said that he always gets overjoyed seeing both his parents, Rosanne and Kevin, always sitting in the front row with a big smile on their faces.
“My mom was a singer and her side of the family is very musical,” said Blowers. “My grandmother was a singer and grandfather was a drummer and they were in a band called the Debonairs. In their heyday, they would do events at the Vinoy and the Coliseum. My dad is the best support anyone could ask for. Often times, he comes early to gigs and helps set up or move gear.”
When he was 10 years old, Blowers found a piano keyboard under his parent’s bed and began to play it. He learned to play music just by hearing it at first and then playing it back. He continues to do the same thing to this day when writing songs with the band, he writes music by ear.
“The first thing that I played by ear was a simple version of ‘Joyful, Joyful We Adore Thee’ by Beethoven,” said Blowers. “One of my favorite things to do was pick out movie music scores on television and play them on the piano. I eventually wrote the song ‘God Made Everything’ with just two chords. It was even played at my church.”
Blowers, however, would become known musically on one instrument, the oboe. In fact, Blowers stated that at one point, he thought he would be destined to play another instrument.
“I picked up the oboe in fifth grade. Originally I thought I would be playing the clarinet. I knew a girl that went to my church that played the oboe during church services on Sunday. She brought it one day and when I first played it, I was able to get decent sounds. I’ll admit, its not the easiest instrument to learn to play.”
Throughout his youth, Blowers was home-schooled before making the transition to music theory college courses and eventually high school music classes. He became dual enrolled at St. Petersburg College and joined the Seminole High School Wind Ensemble.
Daniel “Chip” Wood, director of bands at Seminole High School, said Blowers was a multitalented individual in composition and performing that added to the wind ensemble program right off the bat.
“When he first arrived, he wasn’t even tall enough for his feet to hit the floor when he sat in the chair, but produced a gorgeous sound on his oboe,” said Wood. “You could tell right away he was a talent that would be able to do anything with his musical career. He spent four years in the program and developed into a fine musician with just lots of talent to offer, while setting the excellence bar high at a very young age.”
“Playing at Seminole High taught me a lot,” Blowers said. “Immediately, I hit it off with Mr. (Daniel “Chip”) Wood and everyone was so welcoming. I just loved the band program. I had some wonderful experiences that helped boost my confidence to be on stage and perform.”
During high school, he was first oboe for five different ensembles including Pinellas Youth Symphony and Tampa Bay Youth Orchestra. He received the honor to play in Carnegie Hall for National Festival Orchestra. He would also get notoriety in the music community when members of the Florida Orchestra and the Tampa Bay Symphony would play his written instrumental compositions.
“That was a fascinating experience for me. I just remember pacing back and forth. I mean come on it’s the Florida Orchestra for goodness sake. They are going to play it absolutely brilliantly. But to hear something played that I wrote, I have always felt more nervous to hear something of mine performed when I wasn’t the one performing it.”
When his senior year came to a close in 2005, Blowers had to make the very tough and contentious decision of where music would take him and how it would play into his future.
“I probably could have continued oboe performance and continued working hard and get into a conservatory specifically for oboe,” said Blowers. “The reason I didn’t was because I didn’t want to play oboe for the remainder of my career. I thought I would be tied down.”
He ultimately chose to continue taking courses at St. Petersburg College. Blowers said that it was his long time teacher and mentor Professor Vernon J. Taranto Jr. that encouraged him to stay. There, his music theory was expanded further and he even learned to sing opera. He also started to write music, which he hoped, could become part of a standout venture from classical compositions roots. Many of the songs that he composed made it onto his first album, Through Glass, which was released in the December 2009 through Oh Good! Studios in Lakeland.
“I remember so many people saying to me, ‘Wait a minute I thought you played oboe and wrote compositions and things like that!’ There was no oboe on the album in any of the songs. People I knew described (Through Glass) as a new direction or venture so to speak. I wanted to pay tribute to the classical training in piano and vocal performance and then kind of amp it up just a little bit.”
That summer, Blowers was invited to go to Greece with Love Song International mainly to do worship and leadership. Originally it wasn’t to promote the album, per se, but rather to spread the word of Christ through his lyrics.
“My music was well received,” he said. “I was there for over a month and I just loved being there. There were so many different nationalities represented and it really reminded me that music truly is the universal language and that everyone could relate to the message.”
After returning, he took the position of middle school band director at Grace Lutheran Church before taking the job of worship leader and student ministries director at Christ United Methodist Church in St. Petersburg. In fact, the person that inspired him to take the job was the choir director at the church; Blowers’ mentor professor Taranto.
“Their contemporary service was looking for a worship leader and Dr. T. recommended me to take the position,” Blowers said. “One thing that I have always been passionate about that I wanted to share with the other staff members is the passion I have for finding people to use their gifts for the glory of God.”
He took his experiences and within two years was able to get the songs going for the second album, “Let Me In,” which was released in 2011 under Loki Music group in Deland. He said since he learned so much from being in the studio and out in the world, that he wanted his second album to be so much different while combining new elements.
“I wanted this album to be even more polished as far as the production of it,” Blowers said. “Having been through that process of recording and having two years to say, ‘Okay I really learned a lot in that process.’ Even with the song writing that is on this new album, there is a lot or growth and maturity.”
Within that time, Bruce was also able to find love. He married his girlfriend Jacqueline in 2011. Even during performances, the song “Bridge To You” on his new album, is always dedicated to his wife.
“It is written for her,” Blowers said. “She lived in Sarasota and I lived in St. Pete and I literally wrote that song while driving on the Skyway Bridge. She is super supportive and is a huge inspiration for me to continue to push myself musically.”
Blowers continues to perform around the Tampa Bay area at local churches. For his third album, he would like to add elements of the band, plus new experiences that he learned along the way.
For more information about Blowers and his band, visit www.brucegblowers.com. His CD’s and songs can be purchased on his website or on iTunes.