|Connersvine is Hunter Smith (left) and Chris Wilson.|
Not too many rock bands include Super Bowl champions in their ranks. But Hunter Smith, punter for the Indianapolis Colts, is finding much success with his Christian rock/worship band, Connersvine. Smith, whom Beliefnet recently named one of the "Top Evangelicals in Sports Today" along with longtime friend Chris Wilson, co-wrote all of the music on their self-titled debut album, and take turns at the mic, sometimes playing acoustically, and other times with a band. Currently on the Winter Jam tour, where they are performing with artists Mandisa, BarlowGirl, MercyMe, and NewSong, Smith recently spoke to Beliefnet's Dena Ross about songwriting as an act of worship, leading Bible study with Third Day, and the importance of faith among the Colts. Listen to 'Hero' by Connersvine
In the liner notes to the new album, you thank Mac Powell, lead singer for Third Day. Has Third Day been influential to you and your band?
Absolutely. I used to go out on tour with Third Day, back before I was married, and lead them in Bible studies. We had a really good time. Mac is a good friend of mine and he's had a lot of influence and a lot of say in my life and my career musically.
It's been a privilege to use them as a sounding board for a lot of things--whether it's songs or ideas or future plans. All of those guys have been good to us.
You toured with them before you were in Connersvine?
It was not a musical thing. It was just a spiritual thing for them as a band. They asked me to come on and lead them in Bible studies and kind of be a tour pastor--sort of Bible study leader for them. I did that a few times with them. They never had any idea I had musical aspirations, and I certainly never wanted to violate our friendship by trying to sneak any sort of agenda in there musically.
It was good for me to be around the industry, but it certainly was not my agenda to try and get an in through them. They have continued to not be any sort of a resource for us and our involvement in Christian music. We've tried to keep our relationship strictly personal and not business at all.
Are there any other Christian bands that influence you that you are inspired by?
There are a lot of great bands out there right now. We think that Third Day is a great band. We enjoy the songwriting of MercyMe.
For both of us there have been a ton of influences that are both Christian and mainstream. I think U2 has been a huge influence on me just as a band, their songwriting. In Christian music there are a lot of people who we think are pretty special and like them as people and their music.
Do you ever feel the presence of God with you when you're out on the football field or on stage playing a show?
For sure. I really do. I think one of the things that we're prone to do as human beings is seek the presence of God more in the pressure situations--up on the stage or out on the field.
But, what God has taught me is not to be anointed in those moments, but just to be anointed and just to be full of His presence and surrounded by Him and allowing Him to live out His life through me, whether that's changing my son's diaper or playing in front of 15,000 people on a stage in one of these venues where we're on this tour, or playing in front of the masses on the football field. Regardless of how grand or how mainline your activity may be, we want to be anointed and full of His presence.
Do you ever feel strengthened by prayer when you're doing those things?
Absolutely. I can feel the prayers of my wife and the people around me that are praying for me. I can feel the grace that comes from that. There's no question about it.
It's fairly well known that the Colts, and Tony Dungy in particular, hold onto their faith very strongly. Do you feel that faith as an important part of the Colts?
Yes, I do. What I was talking about earlier, just being anointed, and not just in the extreme moments, but just in the everyday, ho-hum details of life—I think Coach Dungy absolutely exemplifies that, models it, does a great job with it.
He's changed the culture at the Colts. It's not that we're some religious organization that prays all the time and has Bible studies all the time. It's just that the way people live their lives, not all together, but certainly to a large degree, does honor and love God.