Originating from Manitoba, Canada, Jordan Janzen and James Shiels began The Color after a season in life when they thought they were letting go of their music dreams.
“James and I had played in a high school band for a few years and it encompassed all of the high school desires and dreams that come with that.” recalls Jordan. “We were going to be famous! Then, when James moved away to go to Bible college, things just sort of came to and end.”
Following some spiritually transformative years, Jordan and James both entered into full-time ministry in 2009. Jordan as a youth pastor and James a summer camp director.
“It was a bitter sweet time,” James explained. “It was difficult feeling that God was calling me away from music. That was hard to give up. At the same time, God had placed such a passion inside of me to disciple and mentor young leaders and I was excited about the journey.”
“I was getting married and had started a new role at a new church,” Jordan recollects, “and I really didn’t know where music fit into the mix. I knew that God was calling me to youth ministry and I wanted to give it my heart and attention. That didn’t necessarily come naturally. I remember a friend approached me and spoke out the idea that maybe the ‘music thing’ was done for me and I thought to myself…maybe this is God’s way of bringing that season and desire to a close?”
Both Jordan and James dove into full-time ministry with the intention of fully embracing where God had them, while still maintaining their friendship.
“We started to connect for accountability purposes,” James says. “We got the go ahead to meet once a week to talk about life and ministry. We would meet, process what God was teaching us and share about the joys, hardships and life-changing stories within our ministries. These experiences soon began to inspire new songs. Songs about hope in the midst of life’s toughest times and songs that celebrate who God is through those times.
It was here that The Color came to life. God brought things full circle. What Jordan and James both thought was a calling away from music turned out to be a time of preparation for a ministry in music. “It’s amazing how half a decade of learning to serve and love people will change you,” Jordan points out.
The guys decided to make a record with the songs they had written and, with a desire to begin spreading the music and cover their costs, they put a band together and hit the road.
Enter Larry Abrams on lead guitar and Tyson Unrau on the drums.
“God has been so faithful in bringing the right people to be a part of the team, at the right time.” explains James. “Larry began right from the start of our touring and when Tyson joined us, a little later, it felt like God was putting the final pieces together.”
It doesn’t take long to recognize that The Color brings an energy and authenticity, both with their music and personalities, that quickly draws people in.
“The thought behind the name ‘The Color’ comes from the idea that color brings life to the world around us.” Larry shares. “That is what we want to do with our lives and music. We want to bring life and a message of hope that we know can only be found in Jesus Christ.”
With this desire at the core of each song, concert and connect, the band has been able build a sustainable touring schedule in Canada, which is no small feat.
The Color has been awarded multiple Canadian GMA awards and has spent the last few years touring their home country, full-time, from Coast to Coast. They have shared the stage with many great artists such as For King & Country, Tenth Avenue North, Jamie Grace, Kutless and they most recently toured across Canada with Grammy-nominated Building 429.
One of the band’s biggest offstage highlights was having the opportunity to sing background vocals on a recent Michael W. Smith single, ‘He Will Never End (From “The Passion: New Orleans”). Larry shares that while they were in Nashville writing and recording with producer Seth Mosley (For King & Country, Newsboys, Unspoken), Seth was also working on a single with Michael. The Color was recording at the infamous ‘Castle Recording Studios’.
“It was an incredibly surreal experience,” Larry recalls, “to not only sing on a Michael W. Smith song, but to also have him in the room co-producing the track with Seth. We grew up on his stuff and he is a legend. He was gracious, encouraging and it was a once-in-a-lifetime experience”
One of my earliest memories playing music is of my dad and I in our basement. Dad on his baby blue Fender electric and me attempting to play my black Pearl Export kit (which I could barely see over), after I had finally graduated from pots and pans. This was a reoccurring scene in my household and it was this intentional time and space that sparked a love and passion for music that would consume my thoughts, my time and my dreams.As I grew older I discovered that this passion for music went beyond simply the ability to play songs or sing the right notes. It connected; it had impact. Music stirs the heart in a way that few things do and I have come to realize that, more than any fame or success, it is my desire to use it to speak life into those around me. In the same way that my dad was willing to be intentional with me, I want to be intentional with each song, fan and opportunity.
After the whirlwind subsided, Jordan felt called to step back from music, into full time ministry as a youth pastor, at the Westside Community Church in Morden, MB. As this was happening, he and James Shiels, who had recently started as a summer camp director at Winkler Bible Camp, began connecting with the purpose of accountability and encouraging one another. What resulted was a deeper understanding of who God is and what it looks like to really live a life that is reflective of Him…and a bunch of songs that connected with the daily questions and struggles of that very journey.
In three short years The Color has seen many miles of their home country, playing hundreds of dates, with a desire to spread their music and message of Christ’s hope, from coast to coast.
GUITAR, KEYS AND VOCALS
My biggest passion in life is making a difference in other people’s lives. I love music’s intrinsic ability to connect with anyone, young or old. Being a part of The Color gives me the opportunity to impact thousands of people.Since I was little I always loved creating. Taking a mere idea and turning it into something you can see or in this case hear. I remember when my mom would teach me piano, I never wanted to play what was in the book. I just wanted to make something up; play what was in my mind. Pairing my passion for creating with my passion for people is why I’m determined to succeed with The Color and reach as many people as I can for many years to come.
In March of 2015, The Color released their most recent work ‘Eyes Wide Open’, a five song EP that was produced by Rusty Varenkamp (Tenth Avenue North, Sanctus Real, Building 429). These songs reveal a brave new sound and a maturity that is the result of four guys being continually reminded that it is God who provides the hope and strength we need to make it through each day.
It’s their response to His truths; to the question “what did you do with what I gave you”, and its lyrical truths stick in your head and heart long after the music fades.
LEAD GUITAR AND VOCALS
Being a part of music has been a passion of mine for as long as I can remember. In grade 6, my big brother got an electric guitar, and it didn’t take long before I was playing it more than he did…which is the reason he takes credit for my skills. Unknowingly, this launched me into what seems to be a life of playing and constantly learning.
I have my family to thank for such an enormous amount of support through all the various different aspects of my musical adventures from ‘rap/rock’ and ‘southern gospel’ to what we are now doing with The Color. My passion stems from what I believe is a calling to encourage and empower others through the gifts I’ve been blessed with, and to show joy and love where needed. Music is so incredibly powerful and to me the sound of one crisp resonating guitar chord can speak such strength, and has the ability move in so many ways.
I got my start playing drums in my church as a young boy, when my Sunday school class was doing a special number and I decided to go sit at the drums, instead of singing. My Sunday school teacher, being just a great dude, decided not to try to get me to stop and instead came and showed me a basic beat. A love and never-ending journey on this instrument began that day. I was fortunate to be in a family where my dad sang Southern Gospel for a living, for a number of years, and I had the opportunity to play with some amazing musicians with his band at a young age, all the while also having my own hardcore band.
My formal studies started in my preteens and continued through to university. This took me all over North America, studying with amazing drummers. Playing with my own rock and worship bands took me on tours all over Canada, before I started doing session work. This took me to some potentially dark places and, instead of drifting down that path, it convicted me of the power of being a Christian in these environments and the opportunity I had to be a light to those I was playing with. After my wife and I had our son, Maddy, I started to feel the need for a deeper purpose for my playing. God continued to put me in all kinds of musical situations which eventually had me cross paths with The Color, in the summer of 2015. I officially joined the band in the Fall of that year, and couldn’t be happier playing the gospel behind my white DW’s.