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By Josette Keeloremail@example.com
Less than two years ago he was ministering to abused and neglected children. Now Travis Cutshaw sings about his faith in his recently released second CD. He considers his work a music ministry.
Formerly of Winchester, Cutshaw, 34, lives with his wife, Kari, and two children, ages 41⁄2 and 2, in Beckley, W.Va. He's come a long way in a short time, but he's ecstatic and a little amazed about the direction his life has taken so far.
"This has been a huge journey," said the Christian singer, songwriter and guitar player.
His second CD, "The Romance," was released on May 27.
When asked how it all started, he said it's a long story, but a good one.
He was volunteering as a counselor at the Royal Family Kids' Camp hosted by the Winchester Church of God when he decided to become more involved in the national organization that works with abused or neglected children. After two years as a counselor, he and his wife started the first West Virginia camp for Royal Family Kids.
The couple became entry level licensed ministers with the Church of God and fully intended to devote their lives to working with Royal Family Kids, but God had other plans, Cutshaw said.
"We still support the organization," he said. "They're an amazing organization."
In 2004 he recorded a first CD, "Look at the Sky," through an independent label, Trouble Town Records, started by some friends in eastern Tennessee, but he didn't pursue music full-time until recently.
It wasn't until a year and a half ago, when he was in Charlotte, N.C., speaking for Royal Family Kids, that he learned about Gat3 Productions and thought again about pursuing his former passion for music.
It was good timing for him, he said.
"I felt like I needed to be doing the music thing again."
He learned about Grammy-winning producer Glenn Tabor at Gat3 through friend and fellow singer Jason Upton.
"I just really felt a connection with how they do things," Cutshaw said.
Pianist Mark Stollings from Charlotte is featured on "The Romance" along with electric guitarist Mike Severs from Nashville.
"This new record is definitely a step up," Cutshaw said.
"It was just a really cool experience to meet these guys and get to play with them," he said. Cutshaw's brother David also plays bass guitar on the CD.
Although Cutshaw said he plays with some country crossover styles, "it's definitely Christian music."
"I would say scripture inspires me more than anything," he said.
One song on the CD, "Hey Jesus," encapsulates what his message is all about. The words come from Matthew 25:40.
"I mean, that's just straight up Christian," he said, laughing. "It was really cool how that one happened."
At first, when writing the song, all he knew was that it would be about Jesus. He became inspired by the idea of people treating each other like they would treat Jesus.
"That was actually the producer's favorite song," Cutshaw said.
"The Romance" has 13 tracks, including 11 original songs Cutshaw wrote, plus a track of him talking about his music, and another reprising a violin solo from one of the songs.
"I've always loved music," he said. When he was 15 he was in a band called Salt Shaker, which often played at the Daily Grind on the Loudoun Street Pedestrian Mall in Winchester.
"We recorded two or three times," he said. At the time he was strictly a guitar player. "College, that's when I started singing."
He majored in communications at Lee University in Cleveland, Tenn., and minored in music.
Cutshaw said it's been a leap of faith trying to make it in the music business, but he trusts that it's the right course. He spreads his faith through his music, traveling full-time to share the hope of God through Jesus; his wife still is active in women's ministries.
He calls the experience "kind of God's pursuit of your heart."
"It was just kind of cool how it all worked out," he said. "It was just cool how God came through."