As told to Shaun Ryan
Local resident Brenda David is an award-winning singer/songwriter with three CDs of original music. Her music can be heard on radio stations from six continents. But what she is most passionate about is her music ministry, Soul to Soul.
Tell us a little bit about yourself.
I've been a beach girl since my early childhood. I was raised in St. Augustine Beach and am a descendant of the Minorcans, the original settlers of St. Augustine. I think I was born with sand between my toes. After graduating from high school, I went to FSU and then travelled the world for several years as a model and actress before settling back in North Florida’s beaches where I have remained a resident for 30 years. With a bachelor's degree in exercise physiology I spent many years working in the field of wellness in our healthcare system.
How did you get started as a musician?
I was a late bloomer getting involved in music. Without any training or natural talents, I was approached to be in a band and thought it would be fun, so I started out as a tambourine player and dancer. I definitely discovered a passion that has continued to grow with every passing year. Once I got comfortable with singing, I decided I wanted to learn to play guitar so that I could write my own music, and six months later I began working on my first all original album "Scratch."
How has your music evolved over the years?
With the release of “Scratch” in 1998, I was signed to Western Heart Promotions and began touring and performing both as a band and solo artist. Many of the songs topped college and European radio charts and several songs were featured in films.
In 2000, I received the honor of being asked to represent the U.S. and Jacksonville as a guest musician in Senegal, Africa, honoring the life of Anna Kingsley (of the Kingsley Plantation fame) and performing with Senegalese musicians from her birth country.
In 2006, I released a second album of original music, “Better Part of Me,” receiving multiple songwriting honors including one from the international songwriting competition for “Behind the Veil,” written in 1999 about the women of Afghanistan and the Taliban. My third album was released in 2012 and included a very unique song called “Africa.”
In that song, you performed with members of the Maasai. Tell us about that experience.
I travelled to Kenya, Africa, for a music ministry and mission trip, and while sitting around a campfire one night playing guitar, I was joined by a group of about 20 Maasai warriors who began chanting along with me. We recorded it on our phones, and when I came home, my music-writing partner Mark Dennison and I created a music soundtrack around the chanting and then the words flowed from my experiences. The Maasai tribe actually loved the song and called me Mama Africa!
Tell us about your music ministry.
Around 2005, I began to branch out into another area of my music that has become my greatest passion.
My grandmother was in her 90s and loved to watch me perform, but it became more and more difficult for her to get to my venues. So I began performing at her nursing home, and since then it has grown into hospice, cancer and Alzheimer’s centers, hospitals, behavioral health, dialysis and anywhere there is a need.
My music ministry, Soul to Soul, focuses on the sick, the dying and the elderly and touches the lives of thousands of individuals every year.
Another component of my music ministry has been doing mission work, and I've completed hundreds of mission trips worldwide in the last 10 years. I feel incredibly blessed to be able to give the gift of music to those most in need and sometimes in their darkest or final moments. It's an honor to be given this as my life's calling and to be able to witness true miracles through the healing power of music.
What are you working on these days?
I've continued to work in the field of modeling and am honored to model for Venus swimwear and fashions in addition to having a five-piece band, Fireball, a duo, my music ministry — and I have begun writing songs for a new original music album.