AT THE TIME most people head home after a typical workday, four musicians are just getting started. In a living room filled with holiday decorations and religious artwork, with inspirational phrases on the walls and bookshelves, Darren Calhoun, Leslie Michelle, Hannah Rand, and Gary Rand are rehearsing.
Together, with Leonora Rand, they are The Many, a Chicago-based, social justice-focused worship band that pulls from gospel and indie pop to sing about topics not usually mentioned in worship music or church. Their songs touch on police brutality, LGBTQ and immigrant inequalities, economic hardship, identity and uncertainty about faith and God, and doubt and justice amid violence.
“We were trying to find some songs that could give honest voice to our congregation, to what we were dealing with,” says producer Gary Rand, a longtime musician and former director of worship at LaSalle Street Church in Chicago, as well as former director of worship and adjunct professor at McCormick Theological Seminary for 20 years. He says the band always felt a need for this kind of music, but once the group solidified in 2016 with its current members, its mission of speaking truth with a social justice lens to community issues took off.