'˜Our journey and our story is proof that faith can make things happen'

A local worship band is preparing to launch a debut album in Derry this weekend, which is the culmination of two years of hard work and faith.

‘I AM’ was formed in 2016, and is made up of four local musicians - Marie-Therese Martin, Joseph Carlin, Bethany Doherty and Lauren Doherty,

The band has sold out St. Columb’s Hall five times, crowdfunded, recorded and released their debut album and last month debuted it at the World Meeting of Families Mass by Pope Francis in Phoenix Park.

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“It has been a bit of a whirlwind, we didn’t know what we were in for,” said Marie-Therese.

Joseph added: “Some household names in Ireland only got a four minutes slot, we were given 20 minutes. It was really good.

“Clearly the organisers had listened to our music and thought it was perfect for what they were trying to achieve.

“They bought into what we do. It was crazy.”

Marie-Therese added that it was “fantastic” to be part of the event which saw “so many people gathered from around the world with the same heart, intention and enthusiasm.”

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She said that although all of the members grew up in a Catholic background, many of the events the worship band is involved in are cross community and the music itself isn’t religious.

“It’s an all inclusive movement of celebration of music and faith. We are not pigeon holed into a religion.

“We have a simplistic faith and it’s just about how we speak and pray to God and that’s through music,” she added.

The band released its album ‘Fight The Good Fight’ early, in order to give their fans a chance to familiarise themselves with the music, and to “create a community feel” at the concert.

“These are not just songs, it’s an experience.

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“I’m really looking forward to the atmosphere that is created.

“It’s not something you can plan, you just have to have faith that it will be there and there’s a lot of elements that we just have to surrender over it and let it happen organically.

“That’s the beauty of having faith,” declared Marie-Therese.

Joseph added that it was “exciting” to debut their album to a home crowd.

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“It adds to the local scene in terms of music and church life, for people who want to experience something spiritually that want another avenue to go down.

“It’s not just a church. We hope that we can provide a new medium and a new space.”

Marie-Therese said that all of the members of ‘I AM’ have had a “tough year,” but said it’s also “the best year of our lives as well.

“I’m actually living my dream. I’m doing what I set out to do.

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“I love what I’m doing and it’s a dream come true, writing and singing my songs,” she continued.

This November the band will travel to New York to perform for around 1,200 people at the monthly ‘Catholic Underground’ event.

This trip, along with a trip to Germany earlier this year, was organised by Fr. Christopher who is based in Galliagh, who Marie-Therese says “knows music and he knows what is needed in the church.”

“He sees something special in us and its nice that he is excited in what we’re doing. There are elements of grace in what we’re doing. Anything we put our mind to, we do a certain amount of the work, but there is grace involved then,” she said.

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She also paid tribute to former band members and musicians who had previously been involved, saying “the door is always open for people, it’s a moving family, but it’s important to remember the growth that we’ve had.”

Joseph said that what the band has achieved in such a short space of time “realy cements” what the band are singing about. “That there is something else there. Our journey and our story is proof that faith can make things happen, that we’re not just doing it on our own,” he said.

Tickets for ‘I AM’ album launch in the Millennium Forum this Sunday, September 23 are available from the Box Office. ‘Fight The Good Fight’ is also on sale, and available from Cool Discs, Veritas.