The second that Audio Adrenaline frontman Mark Stuart opened his mouth Saturday at Broadway Christian Church, it was clear he would not be singing to any great extent.
Audio A retired from the stage and recording studio in 2007 after serious medical issues silenced Stuart's singing voice. "I developed a voice disorder from screaming at concerts for 20 years," he told the audience in a raspy voice that didn't sound much better than it did at the group's last Lexington concert, a few blocks over from Broadway Christian in Rupp Arena in spring 2007. "But the thing is, in losing my voice, I have become the voice for thousands of orphans in Haiti."
And that's what brought Stuart and Audio Adrenaline bassist Will McGinniss to Lexington on Saturday along with worship artists Know Hope Collective. The group led the audience at Broadway Christian in worship and talked extensively about the Hands and Feet Project, Audio A's charity that operates orphanages in Haiti, and the Know Hope Foundation, which operates in Haiti and the Ukraine.
They told the stories of several orphans, including Stuart's adopted daughter, Christela, who they said was born in Haiti to a 14-year-old girl in an outhouse, dropped into the toilet and left to die. Very soon after that, she was rescued by United Nations peacekeeping troops. Stuart said that after the dramatic rescue, which they showed video of, the soldier who was lowered into the pit to retrieve Christela asked to name her.
Christela, Stuart said, means "Christ was here" in Creole.
"When you reach out to help the abandoned, you understand what it is for God to reach out to us," Stuart told the crowd.
The event opened with the story of Mackenson, a boy born during the Haitian earthquake in January 2010 who was given to the Hands and Feet orphanage by his mother, who did not want to care for him after it was discovered he was HIV positive. Today, according to a video about the boy, he no longer is HIV positive.
The orphanage and charity were named after one of Audio Adrenaline's signature songs, Hands and Feet, one of only two Audio A songs that were performed Saturday. The other was the group's hit Big House, Stuart's one real turn at singing as he barked the verses and pantomimed throwing a football across the stage to McGinnis on the line, "A big, big yard, where we can play football."
Audio Adrenaline formed in the late 1980s at Kentucky Christian College in Grayson, and Broadway Christian senior pastor Erine Perry got to know the group when he was a youth minister in nearby Chesapeake, Ohio.
No, raising rock 'n' roll memories was not the point of Saturday night's event. But it was a few moments of fun in the midst of what has become a very serious endeavor for the Audio Adrenaline veterans.