The Parodies That Will Rock You at Solid Rock
By Ashley Daniels
Would it make you uncomfortable to sing a tune from “Dirty Dancing” in church on Sunday? What if the tune was “I’ve Had the Time of my Life,” but the words were changed up to “I Have Eternal Life”?
Welcome to the parody portion of worship at Solid Rock Church, a beautiful marriage of secular songs and religious lyrics.
Pastor JP and the worship band have created and performed over 100 parodies since 2016, covering everyone from Adele to ZZ Top (well, maybe not ZZ Top yet) and decades of top Billboard songs, like “Somewhere Over the Rainbow” (“Some Prayers Only My God Knows”), “Sweet Home Alabama” (“Sweet Holy Messiah”), and “Bennie and the Jets” (“Jesus Is the Best”).
It’s an innovative spin on church music, with an inspirational birth backstory that was a long time in the making. Flashback to the 1990s, when a teen Pastor JP was selling popcorn at Dixie Stampede and Mark Kaufman (now Solid Rock member/pianist) was playing piano during the pre-show. JP was amazed by Kaufman’s skills with the ivories, but Mark wanted nothing to do with the younger employee.
“After working there for several months and watching the show every night, there was one night in the very beginning of the show, when Mark got incredibly sick and ran off stage,” says JP. “I was 16 years old, I had memorized all the piano parts, solos, and jokes, so I ran up on stage and took over.”
The night was a success for JP on stage. While Mark was on sick leave for the next week, Dixie Stampede hired a music teacher at Coastal Carolina University to fill in, but on the first night, traffic was so heavy, that he was late. Enter JP, who got his second chance to play and would go on to play until Mark recovered and could return to work.
Later, when Mark opened the dueling piano bar, Crocodile Rocks at Broadway at the Beach, Kaufman wasn’t exactly happy that JP wanted to again befriend him and have Mark mentor him. But JP was persistent.
“I wasn’t old enough to go in, so every night I would stand outside the doors and just watch the show,” says JP. “I wasn’t allowed to listen to secular music growing up, and never heard secular music until I was around 15 years old, so I thought that all these songs they were playing were original songs. Later I learned who Billy Joel and Elton John, were … Queen, Prince, Journey. I was amazed.”
Many years later, when JP began pastoring, God led him to reach out to Mark, so, every Saturday night, JP would call Mark and invite him to church – month after month, year after year – then he would text him every Saturday: “I’d love to see you in church.” During that time, JP even met Mark’s parents, Mary Jane and Ron, who shared how Mark was raised in church as a child, but left when he became an adult and they had been trying for decades to get him back to church.
In 2015, God would finally bring JP and Mark together during a season of struggle for JP, when he had resigned as the pastor at his former church, he was divorced with five children to support, he had no friends, and was at a dead end.
“I went to Crocodile Rocks one night and visited Mark to ask him for a job,” says JP. “Mark asked why I stopped pastoring and when I told him my story, he said, ‘Didn’t God still use people in the Bible who made the same mistakes?’ I said, ‘What do you know about the Bible?’
He said, ‘I’ll make you a deal. If you will go back and pastor, I’ll come play piano and sing.’”
Solid Rock Church opened its doors at The Market Common in January 2016, with JP as pastor and Mark as the worship leader in the praise band. The only problem was that Mark didn’t know any contemporary Christian songs.
“So we took the secular songs he did know and we changed the words to glorify God,” says JP. “And our parodies were born.”
Today, there is one parody that closes the worship praise time before the sermon begins. JP says that, in the early days of Solid Rock, the process would be: he would ask Mark what secular song he wanted to do, then JP would re-write it. For the past few years, JP chooses the song, rewrites it, and transposes it into the key needed for the lead singer each Sunday.
“I always have about five parodies I’m working on at the same time, but once I can figure out the phrase I want to use to replace the hook in each song, it only takes an hour or two to complete it,” says JP.
“Our parodies are the one evangelistic thing we have during a Sunday morning service,” he continues. “It connects people who have never been to church and are somewhat afraid of church. When they hear a song that they’ve always known, but is being used to glorify God, it does something very unique on the inside, and it prepares them for the Word in a way that allows their heart to open and their emotions to relax.”