Born in Connecticut and raised in South Florida, Dwayne Bennett, a.k.a Saint Orbin, has become a much sought after touring musician. A multi-talented instrumentalist, he has worked in the music industry as a producer, drummer, bassist, guitarist, and keyboardist, and is preparing to release his own solo project. He’s worked with artists such as Flo Rida, Cris Cab, Frankie J, Betty Wright and Bootsy Collins, and has performed on shows including NBC’s “TODAY” and MTV’s “Video Music Awards.” Meanwhile, he continues to serve at his home church, Cooper Temple (Upper Room). His experiences give him a unique perspective on the issues facing touring musicians that are active in the church.
How do you respond to Christians that question the music you play professionally?
The church frowns on [playing secular music]. The world is a secular world. We’re just not supposed to be of it. You’re not worshiping when you are playing in a secular market. We have sacred moments in a secular world. Work is secular, worship is sacred. So if you are working at Publix, you’re in a secular market. If you’re playing for Beyonce, you’re in a secular market, but you’re not worshiping.
How do you maintain your faith while on tour?
I can truly say that world (touring) isn’t for everybody. At the end of the day, you have to have a backbone and say, “I know who I belong to.” I’ve seen people go into the touring world and leave the church. It has to do with who’s feeding you at home, when you’re not on the road. When I started touring, I was being taken care of at home, but this was an opportunity I knew I needed to step into. They [musicians that leave the church] go out because they aren’t being taken care of. It’s an escape, instead of an opportunity.
How do you maintain your focus on ministry as a music professional?
The way I was raised, ministry is always a priority. For instance, it’s hard for me to say what’s going on in church isn’t important, because that’s my life…because ministry is in me.
Did you ever feel insecure about becoming a touring musician?
I honestly felt like I could have been doing it (touring) earlier, and should have been doing it earlier, but I think there was an inner fear that was causing me not to move forward. The thing everybody used to say to me was “I never thought you’d be interested in doing it.” I was always down to tour, but I never put myself out there to do it. It was the uncertainty of knowing what it all entailed. ‘If I’m going to be gone a long time, is this going to be able to pay my bills?’ While you’re thinking of all those things, you’re not moving forward.
How do you view the difference between working in music ministry versus working on tour?
I don’t appreciate when people treat the church as a job. You can’t treat ministry like it’s just a 9 to 5. On tour, you can treat it like a 9-5, because it’s work. There’s no spiritual attachment to that. You don’t owe anybody anything, like you owe God your service. When you go to church, you might get a check, but you’re not going for a check – you’re going to give God your best. You can’t treat them [church and touring] the same at all.
This interview, along with others from top musicians, will appear in the book “God and Gigs” coming soon.
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You can find more information on Dwayne’s music, including his new single “The Saint”, to be released early August 2015, at his website saintorbin.com.