The Stanly News and Press (Albemarle, NC)

Local News

March 31, 2014

Speaker offers youth advice

Sunday, March 30, 2014 — Coffee and a Pop Tart is one way to wake up.

Coffey Anderson and some pop music is another.

More than 100 middle and high school students gathered at 6 a.m. March 21 to hear the Christian singer-songwriter from Los Angeles, Calif., perform at the final session of the Youth Breakfast Series at First Presbyterian Church in Albemarle.

Anderson took a nine-hour flight the night before to get to North Carolina. It was 3 a.m. his time when the session began in Albemarle.

But Anderson said he was more impressed with the kids getting up that early than himself.

“It shows your dedication to what you want God to do in your life,” he said.

“It means a lot to me to see kids like you up.”

Anderson said he understands pressures kids in a small town face because he grew up in one  himself.

“I grew up in Bangs, Texas,” Anderson said.

“Yes, like your grandmother’s hair. Bangs. We had 1,100 people there, counting the sheep.”

He said his mother was a sweet soft-spoken southern lady, his dad Cajun Pentecostal.

“So nothing was allowed in my house but Jesus and shrimp,” Anderson said.

He described his youth leader as a “ninja for Christ,” who told him that Jesus loved him above everything else and had a great plan for his life.

But as a high school student all he could think about was basketball.

“I don’t think people realize this, but in a small town there is a huge amount of pressure on athletes to do well, to perform well,” he said.

So after graduating from high school, he went on to play basketball in college.

But the idea that his youth leader had planted in his head, that God could make him something more, never left him.

When a friend gave him a guitar and told him, “Boy you can sing. Take this home and learn how to play it,” he began looking beyond the basketball court to something bigger.

“The neighbors probably thought I was crucifying banjos at first,” Anderson said.

But after getting a little help from a fellow student down the hall, posting some hit YouTube videos and doing an opener for Bart Matthews of MercyMe at his college, people began to take notice.

“Never limit yourself,” he said to the students.

He has now met stars such as Billy Rae Cyrus, Colt McCoy, Snoop Lion and his own childhood favorite, Hulk Hogan.

He has been a finalist in the TV series “Nashville Star,” played at San Antonio Spurs and Dallas Cowboys games and released six albums, with another one on the way.

“If we can make music from four chords on a guitar, what can the Lord do with your life?” Anderson said.

The best part of getting to where he is today, he told students, was doing it God’s way.

“It is possible to be popular or a superstar athlete or whatever and still take God with you,” Anderson said.

“Don’t believe what they’re feeding you in the media.”

He’s said he has met professional athletes who waited for their wives, music superstars who try to live with humility.

“You watch music videos or movies, and say, ‘I want to be like those people,’ ” Anderson said.

“But the truth is, that’s not who they are.”

Despite the hour, his story had every student wide-eyed and awake.

They laughed and clapped,  shouted up questions to the stage and whispered to each other.

And, of course, sang.

Anderson led them in praise songs and took popular hits such as Rihanna’s “Umbrella” and Taylor Swift’s “We Are Never Ever Getting Back Together” and put them to Christian lyrics.

“He’s great,” middle school student Robert Ivey said.

“He’s just an all-around nice, soft, gentle, real person. I loved it.”

“And he’s really funny,” middle-schooler Ross Griffin said.

All of them agreed they would take what Anderson said to heart.

“Wherever you go, take God with you,” middle school student Gavin Olivieri said to sum it up.

Before Anderson left, he hung out with the students, took pictures, played a few song requests and took a video of the crowd to post to his Twitter and Instagram accounts.

He had more than 130 retweets within the hour.

“There’s a great group of kids here,” Anderson said.

“Which reflects on y’all’s community.”

He said he has talked with a lot of different people who need hope.

“But you guys have that,” Anderson said.

“Keep it going.”

To submit story ideas, contact Shannon Beamon at (704) 982-2121 ext. 24 or at shannon@stanlynewspress.com.

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