Obie Shelton - "TV is how I make my living. Music is how I live"

That statement might surprise people who know Obie Shelton from Channel 3, with his bow tie and his "Faces of Faith" segments.

by Michelle L. Levigne

In May 1998, he released a CD of traditional hymns, playing the violin. "Obed Shelton: In Hymn." The music is a mix of Classical, Country and Blues. In places it sounds a little jazzy. The style is timeless; the songs are familiar. "If they know the song, it grabs them."

How the CD came about is a "Faces of Faith" story all its own.

It began in the hospital. Chronic stomach cramps Shelton had suffered since college turned bad enough to send him to the hospital. The standard treatment didn’t work. The doctors finally determined it was some kind of bowel twisting, and if they didn’t operate there could be organ damage. Shelton agreed; he’d been in pain for twelve hours.

The doctors estimated an hour of surgery, four days in the hospital, six weeks of recuperation. Shelton underwent nearly four hours of surgery. With complications, he was in the hospital twenty-one days. He had always been busy, speaking, playing, on the go. Those three weeks gave him time to reflect, concentrate, and read the Bible more. He called it "connecting dots"; getting perspective on his life.

One point came clear: His gift was music. "No matter what you do, you can earn your living doing something else but you can’t neglect your gift." People had been telling him for years he should make a recording, but he had put it off. He had plenty of time. Now God had knocked him flat on his back to get a good look his life.

Shelton vowed that when he got out of the hospital, he was going to make the recording, no matter what.

God "connected the dots" to put the CD together. Shelton took four years, a few hours at a time as he saved the money for studio sessions. He got the best musicians, engineers and studio he could find. His engineer was the same one who worked for Eric Carmen. The people who worked on the CD made it "their" project. The cover and liner art is a work of art in the choice of color and mood evoked. The effect is as good as a major label’s art studio would produce. Shelton admits, he is overwhelmed by how everyone’s performances and efforts came together. It was God’s guiding hand on the project.

"What you should always focus on is glorifying God, and whatever you have to do to do that is incidental ... your number one goal is to glorify the Lord." When His people do that, God "connects the dots."

After twenty-one years in the Media, he was getting burned out covering murders, fights, etc. Then, Shelton’s boss told him she wanted to start a religion and theology beat, and "Faces of Faith" was born.

All these years, people noticed his music, his trademark bow tie -- but now they notice Faces of Faith" like nothing else he’s ever done. "What I did was put God first, and all the other things fell into place."

Shelton is excited about "Faces of Faith." The Media basically ignores the faith-based answers in many stories. He can focus on the faith aspect of the everyday decisions that affect peoples" lives, why they do what they do, or don’t do. He looks beyond the event once a crisis has passed. How do people live afterwards or cope with the crisis itself? He can focus on God.

Despite his busy schedule, Shelton has his priorities in order. Family first. In the coming year, he intends to reserve one weekend every month to stay home with his wife, Wendy and their son, Owen. Then comes church. Shelton directs the choir at Full Gospel Evangelistic Center, at Martin Luther King and Buckeye.

Obed Shelton’s purpose in life is to glorify God, and the benefits of that focus make themselves known.

Shelton’s answering machine states callers have reached "Boaz Recordings." Why that name?

When he started work on the CD, amid the mountains of research, Shelton learned he needed a "name" to put his recording under, if just for legal aspects. Why "Boaz’?

Dots connect.

When Shelton was born, his parents had planned on a girl. What should they name him?

His older brother was Timothy. In the Bible, Titus comes after Timothy. For a few weeks he was Titus Wayne Shelton. Then his father, who was studying for the ministry, read about Obed, grandfather of David. "Obed" means "Servant," and he knew that was the name for his son.

Boaz was the father of Obed. Shelton’s father, who is retired now, had a great influence on his love of music. He gave him his first violin, for Christmas.

"My way of saying thanks, Dad."