MEET THE BAND!
Cliff Young was raised in Los Angeles. He has always loved church music and jazz. Before college he toured with USC in Europe playing jazz music. Cliff graduated from USC with a BA in Music Education and Trumpet Performance and later received a Masters of Music Education. He’s been a music teacher, a choir director, an audio visual director, a couples and family therapist and is now the lead Pastor at New Hope Christian Center in Lomita, CA. Pastor Cliff is in the process of writing a new book, “Christian Soul”, designed to bring people to a closer relationship with Jesus Christ and to each other. We are so grateful he found time to start Cliff Young & Living Sacrifice in 2009 and for his dedication to excellence in music as well as excellent work for our Lord Jesus Christ. His commitment to share the saving grace of Christ remains at the top of all he does
MariaBella Soriano began training as a classical pianist at age 3! She has participated in music festivals and competitions. Maria played cello in the All City Junior and Senior High Orchestras. She also plays keyboard, organ and glockenspiel. She immersed herself in R&B, soul, funk and jazz and developed a passion for improv, composition and creating and layering her own melodies. In 2009 Maria was working as Cliff Young’s assistant at Calvary Chapel where she developed a passion for arranging hymns with a modern vibe. As a composer, arranger, songwriter, worship director and co-founder of Cliff Young & Living Sacrifice, she currently leads worship at New Hope Christian Center. Her goal is to write and arrange great and unique music to ignite and unite listeners as God captivates and satisfies hungry hearts with Himself.
Chris Van Duyn (electric and acoustic guitar) is a musician who finds he just can’t sit still playing only one style or genre but it’s rock and jazz/fusion that remain at the center of his passion. Born and raised in Iowa City, Chris began touring the mid-west in an R&B/Funk band, expanding the landscape of music by covering artists such as Earth Wind & Fire and Tower of Power. “I have found one of many great things about working with Cliff Young & Living Sacrifice is that Cliff gives me tremendous freedom to apply all the skills I’ve learned throughout my life.. The large pallet of styles allow me to stretch out and push me to never become complacent.” Chris is passionate about leading others to Christ. He says “I want to not only see people find salvation in Jesus; I want to see them find transformation in Him and know their true identity”
Laura Savitz is a Professional Vocalist and an Elementary School Music Teacher. She has been singing professionally for over 25 years. Laura traveled and recorded with world renowned band leader Ray Conniff for over 15 years. She performs various styles of music from Big Band to Rock and Roll and everything in between. She has vocal credits on numerous television and radio commercials, film and television scores including Barbie commercials and Penguins of Madagascar. Laura says “I became a Christian after my junior high choir director asked me to sing in his church choir. This was at the same time that my parents had separated. I stepped into that sanctuary that first Sunday and knew that was where I belonged, and a few months later professed my faith in Christ”.
Our youngest band member, Matt Jamele has been playing drums since he was a kid. He plays a variety of styles including jazz, gospel & rock. He attended CSU Northridge with an emphasis in jazz performance, and has performed with the likes of David Benoit & Christopher Cross. Matt was raised in a Christian home but became serious about his faith in high school. One of his favorite scripture verses is from Galatians 5:22-23- “But the fruit of the Spirit is love, joy, peace, patience, kindness, goodness, faithfulness, gentleness and self control.” Working with Matthew you can see those fruits of his faith are evident! Matthew plans to continue sharing his faith through music throughout his blossoming career.
Kurt George began his musical journey as a child with his parents who were both singers and musicians and his older brother was a jazz guitar player. His brother started him on the keyboard by taping notes on the keys and teaching him to create guitar chords. He gave his life to Christ at a young age and felt the need to share his faith in song immediately. He sang in church and school choirs and was leading worship at a small church by the time he was a teenager. Kurt has always felt that he was most at home playing the piano and singing songs of worship whether alone in his home studio or leading worship for large congregations. Kurt enjoys the leadership and the heart for worship that Cliff brings to the group. Kurt can be found on any Sunday morning leading worship at a variety of SoCal churches on the piano or singing with Cliff Young & Living Sacrifice.
Michelle never thought she would be doing what she LOVES! She was working on a professional dance career when the Lord began to work on her heart and strike a desire to sing. She left the Hollywood scene and began attending a wonderful church in Orange County, CA. “I got approached to sing at church and I have not stopped singing since then. I love harmonies and all types of music – soul, R&B, swing, classical, rock and roll and hip hop. God has given me this gift that I never thought I’d use. But when He says ‘GO!’ I am learning to GO!” Michelle is thankful to Jesus for this opportunity to serve in a way she never thought she could. We are grateful that God brought her to us!
Bryant is well versed in a wide variety of music genres. “Music was the primary source of entertainment in our household. My father’s massive record collection was the envy of the neighborhood and Mom had a library of lyrics from nearly every song in the great American songbook”. After taking up the bass guitar in high school, Bryant attended Fullerton College where he played electric and acoustic bass, and soon began a steady work schedule in the Los Angeles and Orange County Top 40 scene while also playing in local jazz quartet, Blueprint. Bryant’s love for rock music then led him to join the Orange County rock trio Zot, which was eventually signed to Elektra/Asylum records. “I truly love playing all kinds of music, but worship music is in class by itself. It makes me feel like I’m one with the creator of this amazing expression of His love. Playing with Cliff Young & Living Sacrifice presents a unique situation of worshiping the Lord while blending some of the great music from other genres that I’ve played over the years”.
Music has always been an important part of Sandy’s life. She sang in her first choir in elementary school When she was 14 she was invited to church by a friend. The high school and college choir were presenting a musical called “Life.” Its message was about finding new life by trusting Jesus as your Savior. She prayed to become a Christian that night, and later joined that group called “Campus Chorale.” Today she sings in the Sanctuary Choir at the same church, Rolling Hills Covenant. Sandy has been a nurse for many years and currently cares for children in the foster care system. When times are challenging she turns to Romans 8:28 that promises “And we know that all things work together for good to those who love God and are called according to His purpose.” Sandy says “I am blessed to sing praises to God with the amazingly talented musicians in Living Sacrifice!”
*photo credit: Photography by Johanna