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In the same way that their music gently illuminates, Matt and Josie Minikus have dawned softly on the music scene as a singer/songwriter duo. Their individual gifts developed, then dovetailed into a marriage of both soul and song that has enriched the lives of thousands through their recordings and live concerts.
A native of Iowa, Matt felt drawn to music performance as early as eight years old when he donned a homemade Elvis costume (his grandpa's dress pants and shoes) and wooden-sword-turned-fake-guitar and lip-synced to a sold-out concert hall of family members and pets. “I was perfectly serious,” he says. When the bravado of youth gave way to stage fright, Matt’s inner Elvis retreated. A late-teen spiritual awakening coincided with musical awakening, and Matt found himself before large audiences while working alongside evangelist David Asscherick. By this time Matt wasn’t pretend-playing and lip-syncing, for he had mastered his own signature finger-picking guitar style and developed a hauntingly beautiful, gentle-but-strong solo voice. Audiences hearing his flawless ballads would feel a powerful moving of the Spirit, making his calling unmistakable.
Meanwhile, God had been growing another talent in Northern Michigan, where Josie Hershberger began piano lessons at five and then started to craft her own songs at eleven. Again, adolescence brought shyness, leading Josie to hide her gift. When a six-year writer’s block followed, Josie finally decided to use—or lose—what God had given her. The first song to spring forth after her dry season was the hopeful ballad “I Love You Anyway,” which has led thousands to a faithful, forgiving Jesus. Josie’s clear, ethereal soprano floats above her delicate piano phrasing, awakening in listeners a love for all things holy.
In 2002, the individual tributaries of music touched for the first time. Josie, in listening to a CD of a live concert, found that a particular voice arrested her attention. Was it love at first sound bite? Actually, no. Meeting Matt Minikus a month later, Josie recalls, “I thought he was the strangest person I had ever met and was not interested at all.” Matt, in contrast, felt instantly attracted to the pretty brunette, pursuing her until her feelings changed. The two began recording "Journey of Hope" within two weeks of beginning to date. A unique sound had been born, a perfect weave of well-placed lines and tight harmonies in a setting of skillful guitar and piano.
The two recorded again in 2005, collaborating with Clint McKoy on "Know Hymn." They married in 2008, living in Indiana where Matt had a deaning position at a Christian school. Musical aspirations fizzled without a venue, only to revive in 2009 when the two began work on their third joint CD, "Prodigal: The Journey Home." In 2010 they moved to ARISE school of evangelism for another deaning position, this time with only a few months term each fall. This would free them up to travel the rest of the year. Since that time these modern-day balladeers have toured with the ARISE Songs of Ascent music team and taken their own tours. They have seen their ministry grow from a part time dream into a full-time reality.
The blessed pair love the uncertain, sometimes draining, always adventuresome troubadour life. "We try to be an encouragement and blessing to each person we meet", Josie says, "but in the end I think we come away from each encounter having received far greater blessings than we ever could have given.” Their concerts gently enfold the rapt audiences with the presence of Jesus; one cannot hear them and be left unmoved.
- Jennifer Jill Schwirzer
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