Testimonial - Bethany Hogg Perez
I attended TSGSM the summer before I started my freshman year in high school, so probably '08-'12. I started attending because a friend from my church had been going for several years, and she couldn't go that year; so, she asked me to take her place. My parents have always taught me that if you really want something, you need to earn it yourself. My response was to bake tons of cookies, brownies, cakes and cupcakes and walk around town selling them to raise my money. The townspeople were more than happy to help out (especially if I caught them right before lunch). I did this about three or four times before I had all my money and then some. The thought of going to music school my first year was a little scary but exciting as well. I didn't know anyone, which was actually the exciting part since I had gone to the same school all my life! I was a little scared, too; and I was hoping the school wouldn't be too advanced for me. When I got there, we took a little test where you just answer as much as you can, and then you get placed in a level depending on how much you already know. There were several people about my age, and we all ended up in level one together. To this day, we are still friends on Facebook and occasionally talk.
I did the baking thing for my money for two years and then began receiving scholarships which paid for my last three years. My second year there, I remember my friends and I were in the lunch line, and we had been singing "I've got sunshine" all day. One of us started it again; then, the lunch ladies joined in, and before I knew it the whole cafeteria was singing! It was like a really cool scene from a movie.
On my way home from my first year at music school, I felt like a changed person. I had a chance to be myself without anyone judging me because no one knew me; and on top of that, making some great knew friends, I felt more confident in myself. It was like I didn't care as much what everyone at home thought anymore.
I figured my summer after senior year would be my last because when I started college; I probably wouldn't have the time anymore, and I was right. However, halfway through my first semester of college (which I had started as a health major); I decided to change my major to music and trust that God had a plan for my life that was better than my own--even if I didn't know what it was yet. Literally, two weeks after I made that decision and carried it through, one of my new friends from the town where I was going to college asked me if I wanted to join a southern gospel group. I had been talking to him and telling him about different things I used to do including music school, and it shocked him that someone as young as me liked and sang southern gospel! After talking it over with his friends who were in the group he was starting, I became their newest member. We ended up naming ourselves Maranatha which means "come Lord, come." We have been singing together almost two years now, took a tour on the east coast, sang on Atlanta live TV and Dove TV, went on a cruise to the Bahamas as one of the gospel performers, and went through two personnel changes in that time. Now, we are about to leave to go to Tennessee to record our first album!
TSGSM helped me in my music ability in both theory and voice through classes and private lessons. It gave me life-long friends from all over the country and a love for southern gospel music that I wouldn't have gotten otherwise. TSGSM opened a door for God to work out his plans for me in music ministry.
I grew up in a Christian home, always listening to Gospel music. My parents are Kenneth and Marzell Cox. I am the third born of five children. My parents started my siblings and me on music lessons at an early age. We each play several instruments and love to sing. Since Gospel music was all that we listened to growing up, we naturally love Gospel music.
My two brothers and I started going to the Texas Southern Gospel School of Music (TSGSM) at around age thirteen. We are all a year and a half apart; so, my older brother Daniel went first, then I went, and finally my younger brother, Nathan. All three of us boys instantly fell in love with the school. There was a certain closeness to the people there. It was very easy to make lifelong friends. I went to TSGSM for four consecutive years. During that time, I learned music theory, how to read music, how to sing properly, how to project my voice by using my diaphragm, and how to honor God while doing so.
There is always so much love in the school. If you need help with anything, then everyone is more than willing to give you a hand. Going to this school for two weeks out of my summer, every year, opened up the door for my brothers and me to travel some and sing. We would travel within a two-hour radius of our home town and sing quartet style gospel music for churches. Since we have all gotten older, my brothers and I no longer live in the same states.
Daniel is 25 now and completed his degree in music studies. He is currently serving as music director for Life Point Baptist Church in San Angelo, TX. He loves his job and contributes much of what he knows to the classes he participated in at TSGSM.
God has led my life in a direction that I would have never expected. I went to Baptist Bible College for three semesters in Springfield, MO. It was Memorial Day when I was sitting in Chapel listening to the patriotic service when I decided it was time to take a break from school and serve my country. Today, I have served almost four years in the United States Air Force. While serving in the Air Force, I met my wonderful, godly wife who has blessed me with two beautiful baby boys. We serve in our local church. God has put me in the position of Youth Pastor at this church. Every Sunday I am able to play my guitar for our services and teach the Word of God. But thanks to TSGSM, my newest endeavor is the most exciting. My church just went on the air with our new Southern Gospel Radio Station. I am the studio manager for the station and get to work with gospel music all the time. I am still currently serving in the military while pursuing my pastoral degree with a minor in music. My younger brother Nathan is active in his local church and helping lead the Sunday music services. My brothers and I can all agree--the Texas Southern Gospel School of Music has played a huge part in each of our lives, and we would highly encourage anyone of any age to attend.
Thank you and God Bless!