West Valley students featured on GCU worship album

This year’s student album was a collaborative effort, as four of its 11 tracks featured three or more students. GCU’s annual student worship albums are produced through the schools’ Center for Worship arts. Its seventh album, “Canyon Worship 2022,” features West Valley natives Victoria Gutierrez, left, and Edwin Lopez. (GCU/Submitted)

Grand Canyon University’s Worship Arts program has released its seventh student worship album, and two West Valley natives contributed their musical talents to its creation.

Litchfield Park resident Edwin Lopez and Peoria resident Victoria Gutierrez were featured on several songs on GCU’s student album this year, “Canyon Worship 2022,” which is through its Center for Worship Arts. Collaboration was a significant factor in the album’s genesis, resulting in a collection of songs reflecting the students’ feelings and experiences in an honest light.

“When people hear the album, I really just hope they know that these songs come from places that really are as organic as they feel and sound,” said Lopez, a recent GCU graduate. “I know every single person on every single one of the songs on the album and they’re all my friends, and so it was just really cool to see not only the way that God is working through them but the way that they’re able to let themselves be known in such a vulnerable way.”

“Canyon Worship 2022,” produced by music industry veterans Geoff Hunker and David Willey, was released Sept. 9 after a year’s worth of efforts. It presents 11 tracks, four of which featured three or more students.

Lopez co-wrote and recorded the songs “Here (I Will Be)” and “Sometimes,” while Gutierrez co-wrote and played bass in “Sometimes,” “The Real Thing” and “I’m Yours.”

“It was cool to not only be in a new environment and learn to work with new people and new creatives,” Lopez said. “But it was also really cool to be able to be with a lot of people that hadn’t done records yet, haven’t been able to be part of songwriting sessions, and see a song that they wrote be produced in a very different type of lens and getting to as many ears as it has.”

Gutierrez enjoyed learning about the value of collaboration, and cherishes the opportunity she had to sit down with the other students and realize that “you’re not alone in the experiences you have.”

“It’s really sweet to just get together with friends and see that we’ve all been through similar things in life and that we can all come to the same understanding about God, and the way he’s been so faithful to us,” she said. “That was a really nice thing to feel throughout the whole process of songwriting and really getting those ideas down in the song and then even in the recording process, which was really neat.”

The Worship Arts program, which is through GCU’s College of Theology, blends ministry and performance with a variety of industry experts, instructors and experienced worship ministers.

Its worship albums are released annually and are fully created by the program’s current students. They are recorded at the GCU Recording Lab, one of 49 Lopes Live Labs (L3’s) on-campus, which are designed to provide students with hands-on experience leading to real-world skills.

Every December, Worship Arts hosts an open-mic show, where students can submit original songs to perform. Those chosen to showcase their music are then placed in a separate pool, and their songs are picked based on whether they will come together in a cohesive album.

“It takes off from there, and then it becomes a cool process of recording, finding musicians and refining lyrics so that it can be tracked, produced and mixed into what they become for everybody to hear and enjoy,” said Lopez, who praised the program’s efforts to present students with platforms and opportunities like the annual albums.

Gutierrez expressed that she never thought she would be able to record music, and is grateful for the opportunity to be a part of the Worship Arts community.

“Canyon Worship 2022” can be streamed on Spotify, Apple Music and Amazon Music.