Steve Kropp
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Steve Kropp

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"Steve Kropp's first album is a good contemporary Christian effort"

Music from little-known artists is sometimes the most interesting to hear, not necessarily because of the quality of the sound, but simply because it's different from what you'll hear on the radio.

In Steve Kropp's case, though, the music is not simply different but is worth hearing, as well.

In his first and only album so far, "Magnify," Kropp takes contemporary Christian music and adds a little of his personality to make it his own.

Especially catchy is the fourth track, "God of Glory." The lyrics are simple enough, but the music behind them conveys both a sense of traditional hymns and modern sound.

His tenor voice works well with songs that he says could mostly be described as "Praise & Gospel," "Contemporary Christian," or "Inspirational"--not Christian rock, which is more heavy on the electrics and drums, but softer music, still not an a cappella singalong but definitely not something from Switchfoot or Relient K, either.

This CD may not be the most original, but for what Kropp is trying to do--simply share his testimony through his gift of music--that doesn't matter. - Stephen Dause, The Free Lance-Star WEEKender Youth Correspondent


"Songs of praise for everyday life"

Many folks find inspiration Sunday mornings in church. During the week, they may get a dose at Wednesday night prayer meeting. But local Christian singer/songwriter Steve Kropp found a way to deliver a pick-me up during everyday of the week.

With his second album being released this fall, Peaks and Valleys, proves to be an inspiration 24-7.

“This CD is more about life, for the Monday-Saturday experiences. Not just Sunday morning,” said Kropp. “It’s about life in general and knowing God is there through the rough times and the best times.

“The music is for life—getting you through the week.”

The album features such songs as, “Here I Am,” “I Surrender,” and “Captivate Me.” The songs were developed from Kropp’s personal experiences and those of loved ones.

“I’ve grown up in a Christian family,” Kropp said in reference to how his life played a part in the album’s songs. “That’s not to say I’m a saint or anything. There’ve been times I’ve drifted away, too.
“But my walk with Christ is unique in that it progressed steadily until a few years ago when it skyrocketed…I found a channel where I could use my gifts to actually serve God.”

And that he did.

The album features a blue-grass style with the saxophone, violin, drums, and mandolin playing in the background of Kropp’s soothing vocals. Using musical artists Johnny Cash and the Beetles to inspire his “organic” vibe to his songs, Kropp said the album is more of who he is as artist and a Christian.

“I feel fulfillment out of this CD, more so out of the first CD,” Kropp admitted. “I’m exploring music with more of a subtle message. I let the music do the talking and leave the rest up to God. This is the best I can do.”

Kropp began working on this second album almost immediately after the release of his first album, Magnify. But he says there’s a clear distinction between the two.

“My first CD was more of an extension of church with sing- along songs for the congregation. Christian music in the past couldn’t compete with secular music. But with this album I wanted to play the style of music I like to listen to, while still giving praises to God,” said Kropp. “It’s hard to give someone a CD who’s not a believer. If it doesn’t compare to the type of music they listen to, they won’t even think about listening to gospel.

“Lyrically, I’m singing about or people may think I’m singing about a love song, but its just appreciation and praises to God.”

Kropp’s sincerity in his music and lyrics are the most important things he wants people to discover in his songs.

“I think people are a lot less defensive with music versus when they’re being preached to. Music soothes the soul and allows you to loosen up in other ways. So, I do this for God…not for myself,” he emphasized. - Stacy Sneed, Orange County Review Staff Writer


"Tamaqua native uses music as ministry"

At a small church situated eight miles into a scenic country road, a large group of high schoolers and their parents, relatives, and church leaders are causing a joyful ruckus -and it's all musician Steve Kropp's doing.

In between singing into a microphone, playing the harmonica, and strumming his acoustic guitar, Kropp encourages a bout of audience participation that gets kids and adults alike clapping, singing, and dancing in their seats.

A native of Tamaqua, Steve Kropp, son of Herbert and Kathy Kropp and grandson of Richard and Kathleen Jones, Tamaqua, and Dorothy Kropp, New Ringgold, is a contemporary Christian musician making waves on the music scene and Christian radio stations with his album, Magnify, released last July, and a new CD, Peaks and Valleys, slated for a late Aug. /early Sept. release.

A resident of Fredericksburg, VA, Kropp's visit to the church pertains to the Youth Week 2 Camp, one of the many summer camps hosted by the Pocono Mountain Bible Conference in Gouldsboro, which Kropp himself attended as a child.

"I think kids need to see younger people in ministry," he said about the campers, whose ages range from 14-18. "When they see a 28 year-old musician, they can relate more."

Growing up, Kropp was constantly active in the church, singing in the choir on Sundays and participating in Christian retreats. Despite choir, however, Kropp had no formal musical background during his childhood, something that comes as a shock after hearing him perform.

"I didn't play any instruments at all; I was a jock in high school," laughed the 1996 Tamaqua High School grad. "When I picked up guitar, I wasn't good. God really blessed me when I started playing for Him."

It was Kropp's athletic ability that, strangely enough, led him to learn an instrument. While on the track team at Lock Haven University, a teammate of Kropp's taught him how to play the guitar.

"He would bring his acoustic guitar on the long bus rides to our meets to keep us entertained," Kropp said. Kropp asked his teammate to show him some chords, and soon enough, became enamored with guitar, and was given one by his parents that Christmas.

After graduating from Lock Haven, Kropp moved to Virginia, where he attended graduate school at the University of Virginia. Kropp faced many life-changing events after his move to the south, including meeting and marrying his wife, Tracy, and becoming a physical therapy specialist at school districts in Fredericksburg.

"I feel that we need to be disciples in many areas of our lives," Kropp said. "For me, helping kids in that way is just as important as spreading the word through music."

The event that brought Kropp to the little church in PA, however, was not so easily imagined. The pastor of Kropp's church in Virginia asked Kropp what he could do to best serve the church. After some soul searching, Kropp decided that music was the answer, and began playing guitar during contemporary church services on Sunday mornings.

That was about 5 years ago. Since then, Kropp has composed many original songs that are played during services. His songs became so popular with congregation members that Kropp was encouraged to record his work, and in the summer of 2004, he stepped into a recording studio, with the hopes of spreading his message to an even wider audience.

"I would work on about one to three songs at a time. I'd record a song, run out of money, then record another song," he said.

After hearing Kropp's music, local churches were eager to invite him to perform at their functions and festivals. Kropp's popularity soon went well-beyond local fame, and demand for his performances spread throughout the Mid-Atlantic states. Last year alone, Kropp played over 85 times, from Sunday church services in Virginia to festivals in Maryland and Pennsylvania.

Between all of that performing, Kropp started work on his newest CD, Peaks and Valleys, which is in the final stages of production. Unlike Magnify, Peaks and Valleys is an all-acoustic album featuring Kropp's guitar-made melodies harmonizing and overlapping with violins, violas, cellos, mandolins and banjos.

"The last CD was more pop-oriented," Kropp explained. "This one is to appeal to older youth and young adults. It's more grown-up, metaphorical and symbolic. I feel that it needed to sound that way."

Though Kropp occasionally writes songs with others, he prefers to pen most of the lyrics himself, and hopes to make more albums dedicated to spreading God's word in the future. With his second album set for release, Kropp is now working on getting his work published.

"I'm certainly going to keep writing and writing. We'll see what happens," he said. "I'm going where God puts me. Right now, I 'm doing what I feel called to do." - Kayley Hoffman, Times News


"re-generation"

At a time when praise & worship artists seem to be everywhere, Steve Kropp proves himself worthy to be among the best of them. Magnify takes the listener through a series of original modern worship songs that will have your feet a stompin' and your hands a clappin'. Produced by Chris Davis, Magnify carries a high production value not seen in many indie projects. That, coupled with the excellent songwriting and musicianship of Kropp, make this project one worth picking up. Fans of Chris Tomlin, David Crowder and other similar artists will surely appreciate Magnify by Steve Kropp.
- Chuck Woods (http://www.re-generationstore.com)


"WHFC 91.1 FM"

Produced by Glad’s Chris Davis, Magnify presents us with one of the great undiscovered talents of the church – worship leader Steve Kropp. The album’s ten songs cover a variety of styles, from the acoustic guitar-driven opener “I Believe,” and rocking baseline of “God of Glory,” to the worship-service sound of “The Refuge” and the reflective “Father.” This diversity makes for a solid listening experience while showing off Steve’s musical range. The lyrics are at once simple and profound, touching on eternal truths that are often overlooked in modern worship music (“Trinity Song”). Perhaps the album’s greatest treasure might be the most easily-overlooked: the final exhortation of the Andrew Peterson-esque final song, “Never Forget.” Magnify is a solid debut album, with songs sure to grace Sunday morning services and youth events for years to come. Steve is poised to join the crop of worship-leaders-turned-recording artists, and I have no doubt soon you’ll hear in one breath the names Chris Tomlin, Tim Hughes, Matt Redman, and Steve Kropp. - Tim Morgan, Operations Manager


"Teacher gets in touch with Christianity"

Though contemporary Christian musician Steve Kropp, wearing a bright blue retro T-shirt, ripped jeans and throwback Converse shoes, has never met surfer-musician Jack Johnson, he admires Johnson’s “organic” feel.

Coincidentally, Kropp reports more than one person has compared him to Johnson.

Kropp, a 27 year-old adaptive physical education teacher for Culpeper and Orange County schools, spends much of his spare time strumming on his guitar and writing songs that reflect Christ in everyday life.

A Pennsylvania native, Kropp described himself as a “hippie,” who was raised Christian. He admits he never got into the contemporary Christian genre when he was young because artists like Michael W. Smith and Amy Grant couldn’t compete with his preference for Pearl Jam, Dave Matthews Band and the Beatles.

Although Pearl Jam, DMB and the Beatles are not specifically Christian, he still appreciated the message in the music.

“They’re trying to say something with their music,” said Kropp.

Kropp participated in choir when he was growing up, but did not pick up a guitar until attending college at Lock Haven University of Pennsylvania, where he was a member of the track team. Long road trips to different meets drove him to learning chords on his teammate’s guitar.

“I could sing, I just couldn’t play anything,” he said.

He moved to Virginia to obtain a master’s degree in adaptive physical education at the University of Virginia. While in Virginia, he was surrounded by a style of praise and worship he had never witnessed before.

“Where I come from, if you raise your hand (at church) it means you have a question,” said Kropp.

Now as the celebration team leader at New Seasons United Methodist Church in Massaponax, Kropp has found a way to turn his musical hobby into a testimony for Christ.

“What I feel like what I’m being called to do is be in a church setting,” said Kropp.

In fact, “listening” to what he’s “being called to do” is what Kropp says has been the key to his success.

“It’s odd, everything works out for a reason,” said Kropp. “I like to think that I just kinda listened…(it’s) observing life, not necessarily hearing a voice. It’s about observing surroundings and hearing God through creation…you just gotta be patient.”

“Listening” has landed Kropp 10 songs and one album later and to looking in a new direction. His first album, “Magnify,” was produced by Chris Davis in Purcellville and released in July 2005. The album features songs good for Sunday worship, explained Kropp. His next album will be an acoustic collection of theme-oriented songs for everyday use.

“Now I think what I’m trying to say- because I play at a church - is how can you take the concept of Christ and apply it Monday through Saturday? It’s not just Sunday.”

His new song “You are God” comes out Tuesday. The song will be available on his Web site, SteveKropp.com, for 99 cents.
Kropp, who lives in Rhoadesville with his wife, Tracy, just raised $800 at a benefit concert for Grace Oughton, a Fredericksburg area toddler battling cancer.

“I think people are weird about the whole church thing,” he said, wishing he could have raised more money for the toddler’s cancer foundation.

He explained that all the money raised goes toward her family’s travel expenses to her hospital in Boston.

Even though he believes advertising through secular media might have attracted a wider audience, he maintained apprehension about taking the focus off God. During his performances, he said he tries to make sure the focus is on God and not on him.

“I have to redirect myself and remember what I’m doing this for,” said Kropp. - Katie Dolac, Culpeper Star-Exponent Staff Writer


Discography

Magnify- released 7/12/05
In His Hands: World Wide Worship, Volume 1- released 12/05 (features "Trinity Song")
You are God (download single)- released 4/18/06
Peaks & Valleys- released 9/12/06

Photos

Feeling a bit camera shy

Bio

With an impressive regional touring schedule, regular rotation on indie radio, and staff duties in his local church, worshipleader/songwriter Steve Kropp is offering his fair share of both excitement and relevancy to contemporary Christian music. More importantly, his music ministry is directing youth and adults alike toward seeking Christ-likeness and growing the Kingdom of God.

Raised in a Christian family in Pennsylvania, Steve moved to Fredericksburg, Virginia in 2000. Enamored with the Bible Belt’s style of worship, he soon answered a call to serve the Lord through his gifts in music. With this obedience came many blessings as a musician, worship leader, songwriter and speaker. Steve returns this favor by embracing Psalm 34:3 as the foundation for his music ministry: “O magnify the Lord with me, and let’s exalt His name together!”

In July 2005, Steve released his debut CD, Magnify, comprised of original praise & worship songs with pop/rock arrangements in a progressive recording style. Ironically, Magnify’s success resulted in a calling to return to his roots. By taking a more organic approach (à la The Beatles and Dave Matthews Band) to his follow-up project, Steve found he could focus his songwriting more on the emotional aspect of the Christian walk. This led to the utilization of more acoustic genres, such as folk, jazz, bluegrass, and classical. Emphasizing the natural, easy-going worship that has inspired him, this approach will ensure the appeal of Steve’s music ministry to wider audiences.

Released in September 2006, Peaks & Valleys, was recorded at Third Stream Music and produced by Matt Montoro. This new collection of songs focuses on the natural element of music, employing some of the best session players Virginia has to offer on mainly acoustic instruments without effects. From the breathy jazz flute on the opener “Here I Am”, to bluegrass pickers on “I Surrender”, to a classical string section on the ballad “Captivate Me”, the arrangements and instrumentation create a transparent emphasis on the songwriting, melody, and sentiment of a man in today’s world struggling on his journey to follow Jesus Christ. Lyrically, these songs are more topical than the vertical praise & worship that is so common in today’s churches. Peaks & Valleys offers hope through songs of healing, faithfulness, and prayer, while challenging the listener with themes of sacrifice and missions.

Steve’s music ministry is represented in various ensembles in the live setting. He spends most Sunday mornings in a staff position as music director of New Season UMC, a church he helped plant in Massaponax, Virginia in 2005. Steve also travels solo for conferences and festivals, appears as an acoustic duet, trio, or quartet for worship concerts, and brings a full electric band for high-energy youth events. Regardless of the form in which his music is presented, it is an environment conducive to all ages singing, clapping, dancing, and worshipping together!

MISSION STATEMENT:

The goals of Steve Kropp’s music ministry are:

-to “Magnify” our God of Glory,

-to teach about the Gospel of Jesus Christ our Savior

-and to invite the Holy Spirit to bless the listener with His illuminating power

These goals will be achieved by:

-writing and recording songs with biblically sound lyrics of orthodox Christianity

-delivering these songs and other artists’ music of the same values in the live settings of worship services/concerts

-encouraging the listener to seek or maintain an intimate relationship with the Lord

-striving for a progressively sanctified life that will serve as a witness to the listener

-and continually seeking spiritual growth through: Bible studies, reading of Christian literature, attending conferences, delving into the songs of past generations, and keeping up-to-date with current trends in Christian music