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Benny Dichiara and EMPOWERED Keep Carving Out a Name For Themselves in Christian Rock

by Rich and Laura Lynch

Benny Dichiara is the powerhouse frontman for the Christian rock group Empowered. His band recorded their first two albums in Nashville and they will be bringing their energetic and spirit filled show to the region as they have signed on to play the Ichthus Music Festival this September in Wilmore, Kentucky - a quick three hours north and east of Music Row. We caught up with him for a few minutes to get his recollections on making music in Music City and his plans for the future.

Catching up with Benny DiChiara of EMPOWERED in Nashville.

MCN: Did Music City live up to its billing when you visited in 2012 to record Empowered's powerful debut record Soul Cry in 2012?

BENNY: Music City did indeed measure up. The band got to hang and catch several "hot spots" for food (yeah, we're foodies) while on breaks. Just the vibe of Music Row was palpable. Good groove.

MCN: Nashville is so deeply ingrained within the overall meaning and direction of the global music industry. For you, what was the most important takeaway from making your first album here?

BENNY: The most important takeaway for me recording in Nashville was that we were getting it done WHERE it's done. It was a great introduction of, "we're not in Kansas (Baton Rouge) any more!" As they say, when you know, you know!

MCN: Obviously, the experience was one to be repeated when you returned in 2019 to produce Three Days. What - if anything - changed for you and the band in that timespan?

BENNY: The band's first run of Soul Cry was an experience of putting together a recording and getting it out there. By the time we put out Three Days, there were several significant changes. First, I was the only guy returning (since I founded the band, this makes sense). Then we added our current members of the band for these last 2 releases. Shane Madere, Jr. on guitars and backing vox; Justin Burdette on guitars and backing vox; Jeff Maddox on bass and backing vox; and, Mic Capdevielle on drums and backing vox. As they say, this IS the band. We also ran across and got picked up by Mikey Howard (Love Journey Music/7th Time Down), who brought us to another level. We went from college level to touring level like now.

EMPOWERED recorded these albums in Nashville in 2012 and 2019.

MCN: We recently ran into you earlier in the year at NRB held at the Gaylord Opryland Resort & Convention Center. Can you believe how the city has changed in half a decade?

BENNY: Music City has changed a lot since we recorded here. We recorded Yahweh-Nissi in Louisiana, due to Mic's son recovering from leukemia. Thank you, Jesus, he's healed and well! The most significant change that kinda broke my heart was the change to Music Row. For instance, we cut Soul Cry at 16 Ton studios - and, like a lot of the studios, they are now gone. Sometimes 'progress' just isn't. Nashville didn't earn the moniker Music City for nothin'!

MCN: Any word on - or thoughts about the direction of - the next album that will follow-up Yahweh-Nissi?

BENNY: God is already giving me songs for the next record. A few teaser titles are - "The One", "1995", "Throat Punch the Devil" and likely one or two more. I think "Throat Punch" will be akin to "Yahweh-Nissi".

MCN: I see that you are getting some good exposure on local and national television outlets. This coupled with your upcoming appearance at the Ichthus Music Festival this September in Kentucky makes it seem like you are taking a targeted and intentional approach to branching out more throughout the region from your Louisiana home base. Clearly these are great indicators showing that you truly are empowered to take your music and the message contained therein to the next level. How do these opportunities loom for you in light of the recent challenging times for musicians brought about by the pandemic period in addition to the ever shifting tides of the music industry?

BENNY: We are getting good radio and TV exposure throughout the US, and even some European countries. That's exciting. We're so blessed that God is opening up these doors for us. We are looking at more opportunities outside of our home base, but we're trying to rock the message of Jesus to everybody, so that makes sense. If I've learned one thing, it's that when God says to move, we should simply M.O.V.E. Although the industry is going through changes, I think people are looking for great messages through music in a live venue/setting. Sometimes it's just that they haven't heard you yet. Sometimes it's that you haven't made the right venue connection or personal connection. You can have a dream, but you still have to put in the work for it. Thanks so much for having me!

MCN: Benny, if you had to carve a Mount Rushmore of Christian Rock music - who would you make sure was on there?

BENNY: Larry Norman, Rich Mullins, Petra, Stryper.

EMPOWERED are booking dates - check your local listings!

Related Links: For more information on EMPOWERED and the other organizations mentioned please visit the following links - EMPOWERED | Ichthus Music Festival


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