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GOSHEN -- When thousands of people sing to God this fall, Todd Hershberger will give them the words.
He's the new projectionist for Christian praise band SONICFLOOd, which leaves on a cross-continent tour next week.
"I guess I feel a little bit like a rock star sometimes, especially when I tell people that I'm going on tour with SONICFLOOd and I meet a huge fan that just practically faints," Hershberger said. "And then when I tell them I can get them complimentary tickets to the show, they're like, 'I love you forever.'"
Hershberger left his job as audio/visual systems specialist for Goshen College. He joins fellow Goshen graduate Joel Jimenez, who is one of SONICFLOOd's sound engineers.
Hershberger and Jimenez became good friends as students and employees at the college. They promised each other that if one got a good job in the audio world, he'd try to hook the other up.
Jimenez got his job in January. When the projectionist quit, Jimenez recommended Hershberger. They start rehearsals today and launch the tour next Monday.
SONICFLOOd has won two Dove Awards and was nominated for a Grammy for its modern rock-worship music. The band is known for its songs "Cry Holy" and "(You Are My Refuge) Shelter" and covers of "Lord, I Lift Your Name on High" and "I Could Sing of Your Love Forever."
"SONICFLOOd is considered to be the band that defined modern worship," Jimenez said. "It puts worship within reach, even to the secular crowd, because it's good music."
The "This Generation" tour has more than 50 shows through the continental U.S., Canada and Alaska. The tour is co-sponsored by The International Mission Board of the Southern Baptist Church.
Besides projecting lyrics during the shows, Hershberger will display camera shots of band members and videos. He'll also coordinate live interviews between band members and mission workers abroad.
"That will be a very interesting challenge. It relies on a solid network to get the video or audio through. That changes because we're in different venues every single day," Hershberger said. "Not only will I be the video operator and the projectionist, it also sounds like I'm going to be the network guru."
Jimenez mixes the sound for the on-stage monitors the band members rely on.
He got the gig while living and playing in Nashville. As a bass player, he's performed with Christian artists Rebecca St. James, Rachel Lampa and Todd Agnew. He also played with a drummer who eventually joined SONICFLOOd and recommended him.
On Jimenez's first tour, the band played in Canada, Europe and southeast Asia. "We went literally around the world in 18 days," he said.
But they didn't trash any hotel rooms.
"There's zero attitude, everybody's cool, there's none of this, 'I'm a big-name rock star,'" Jiménez said. "It's a very family-oriented work situation. When we go out, we go out to work."
Jimenez and Hershberger credit Goshen College -- particularly the mentoring of Paul Housholder, senior multimedia specialist -- for getting them qualified for the jobs. They said the small school gave them chances to learn different skills and become multi-talented.
That made it hard to leave, Hershberger said, but not too hard.
"It's one of those chances in life that if I were to pass up and stick with the job that is more stable and offers the fringe benefits, I would probably look back and wonder what it would have been like," he said.
Contact Thomas V. Bona at firstname.lastname@example.org.