Photos by Kenwyn Alexander
It wasn’t planned to happen, but it was meant to happen.
Ed Cash, his daughter Franni and son Martin, his brother Scott, and their close family friend Andrew Bergthold, were all together to lead worship at a Young Life camp in Georgia. For different reasons, they were each hurting and searching for hope. Late one night they got together to work on writing a song for the campers—but it turned out to be a song for themselves. It turned out to be the beginning of We The Kingdom.
Look up and lift your eyes/The future's open wide/I have great plans for you, oh yes I do.
That’s the start of the second verse of “Dancing on the Waves,” the song that spilled from their hearts that night. When it was written, they took a step back, looked at each other, and thought, “This is something.”
“The band started before we knew it started,” says Scott. “It never felt like it was happening; it just felt like it had happened.”
The truth is, their whole lives had been leading toward the band—five individual paths, finding solace and strength through music. “I grew up singing in a gospel choir. We went to an all African-American church, and the music had such great depth,” says Andrew. “When I grew up, we moved to a smaller church. They didn’t have anyone playing worship music, so some high school guys and I started playing music there.”
“I remember being 15,” says Scott. “I was angry with my mom for some reason, I don’t know why, and I turned on a record. I thought, ‘This music expresses the angst that I feel right now.’ At that young age, I realized music has real power to it and that it’s not to be taken lightly.”
Franni was in Nepal leading worship when she came upon a temple so spiritually dark she couldn’t breathe. A crowd gathered as she and her group began to sing, and two Nepali girls approached her. “They came up to me and told me they felt peace for the first time in their lives,” she says. “And I realized, I just could not afford to use my voice for any other purpose.”
“Growing up, I was always intrigued by music, but I never had the desire to produce it myself,” says Martin. “When I was around 15, I realized that music was the only way for me to tell my story and use my voice without feeling judged.”
Ed was raised in a traditional church. “The music was mostly hymns played on an organ, which taught my heart to love anthems. Even though this wasn’t the kind of music that I would listen to outside of church, I appreciated it, and it made me start to think that God’s music should be the best music there is—I wanted it to be the music I would listen to in my car.” When he was still young, his life got derailed, but the power of music helped him find purpose again. “I started writing songs about my life—the scary stuff, the wounds, the loneliness, and the finding my way back to God.”
Every one of those stories had been stirring inside of them for years when they arrived at camp, feeling swamped in their individual struggles. When they wrote “Dancing on the Waves,” it was an outpouring from within—God telling them he had great plans for them.
“It was God’s way of healing us,” says Franni.
“God took our individual dreams, dreams that were flawed at their core, and pulled us together,” says Andrew. “We didn’t start this. We can’t own this. It has to be God’s.”