When the University of Mobile RamCorps embarked on the Duck Commander Cruise last Fall, they expected to be the house band and share the stage with the Robertson Family from the reality TV show “Duck Dynasty.”
But nothing prepared the group for the unbelievable experience awaiting them on board: the baptism of dozens of people in the main pool of the ship.
RamCorps is a 30-member high-impact visual brass and percussion ensemble whose purpose is to use music to share the gospel and the love of Christ. They performed on the Carnival cruise ship “Victory” and at two Ports of Call, Nassau and Freeport Bahamas, during the October 2015 cruise.
This amazing opportunity started when Mark Brannon, CEO of the Memphis-based travel company Premier, saw RamCorps perform at a small church in Memphis, TN. Brannon also knew Kenn Hughes, associate professor of music and RamCorps director, through Global Missions Project where Hughes is ministry director. RamCorps has performed internationally through GMP, which is a non-profit committed to ministering to people through music.
Brannon said he wanted RamCorps to perform on the cruise because the musical group is unique.
It is safe to say that the opportunity to be part of the Duck Commander Cruise was a surprise reward for RamCorps; the offer was unexpected, yet flattering. Indeed, Hughes said, “Whenever you work really hard and you strive towards excellence, it’s amazing how many opportunities are given to you.”
As the ship set sail, RamCorps was accompanied by friends, parents, and some of UM’s staff and donors. As the house band, RamCorps acted as the backup band for all guest entertainers that perform on the ship, including the Robertson Family, Lee Greenwood and Ricky Skaggs.
Todd Bosarge, who has played baritone for two years in RamCorps, said performing “God Bless the USA” with Lee Greenwood was an enriching and one-of-a-kind experience.
The Duck Commander Cruise is not your typical ocean voyage; it is a Christ-centered experience that focuses on sharing the message of faith through seminars, music and activities. The Robertson Family performed marriage counseling seminars, daily Bible studies and many more activities to share the Gospel with hundreds of vacationers.
It was during those morning Bible studies that the Robertson Family invited members of the crowd to join them in the pool to get baptized.
The cruise line received many Facebook posts, tweets and emails praising the performance of the group.
In Nassau, RamCorps performed a concert with a local youth choir and a local band for an orphanage. Bosarge, who is an elementary education major, loved the opportunity to spread the Gospel to the children of Nassau while playing and interacting with them.
Even though the members of RamCorps are usually exhausted after long days of performing, they still manage to find time to interact with their audience everywhere they go. Nassau was no exception; the members of the band interacted with the children for about an hour after their performance.
“As fun as the cruise is, life is about relationships, so we try and go connect with people wherever we go,” added Hughes.
As exciting as this experience was for RamCorps, it is only one of many projects on their list. The band’s amazing performance and the positive feedback received from the audience on the Duck Commander Cruise resulted in an invitation to sail on board the K-LOVE Cruise in January 2017. This offer will be a great opportunity to expand RamCorps’ platform since they will be shoulder- to-shoulder with famous Christian music artists, including Steven Curtis Chapman, Crowder, For King & Country, Newsboys, and UM alumni Big Daddy Weave.
Recently, RamCorps took their journey one step further and recorded an album in Nashville, TN. The brass and percussion ensemble was in studio for four days in May to “make a great album that everybody can be proud of,” said Hughes.
The album is projected to be ready this fall.