Ricardo Sanchez Press 2017

photo credit: Larsen & Talbert Photography

I had the distinct privilege of being invited by Difference Media to attend the live recording of Ricardo Sanchez’s latest album, Taste + See, this past May. The recording was held at San Antonio’s Cornerstone Church in a smaller auxiliary building utilized primarily by the church’s student ministry. That night, the room was bursting at the seams with friends, family and fans eager to hear new music from the acclaimed singer, songwriter and worship leader. Ricardo assembled a backing band of killer musicians for the special evening, complete with guests, including powerhouse vocalist Blanca. Filled with a veritable buffet of flavors—from vibrant Latin overtones to soulful pop and R&B elements—Taste + See has a little something for every musical preference. A few weeks after the recording, TSO had the opportunity to speak with Ricardo to relive the night and talk diversity, friendship and mentoring.

TSO: From your perspective, what did the live recording in San Antonio feel like for you that night?

Ricardo: It was such a fun night. I felt like God was there, and I just feel like we’re on the verge of something cool. I just want to get people to the table to tell them about Jesus. I think it was a great, pure start of that.

TSO: Why a live album? You could’ve easily gone into the studio and crafted another project; so why did you feel like this was the season to do a live record?

Ricardo: The best way I can describe it is the difference between a job and a call. A job is something that you work, and a call is something that you just kind of do. It’s kind of one of those things where making a studio record is a job, but the live worship thing is a call for me. It’s so simple. It’s not difficult. It just comes naturally. I just feel like I’m in my element when I do live, when I’m in front of people playing, responding to the environment and the atmosphere. I kind of go in the direction of my gut, which God speaks to. So that night, there were some words that were said that weren’t planned. Some direction, some songs kind of got switched around, because I felt like that’s what God was saying and doing and painting the picture for somebody, somewhere, for some reason. All that plays into the live element for me. That’s what I like about it. You never know what you’re going to get. It’s real time, and you’ve got one shot.

TSO: Blanca sings on two songs on Taste + See. In particular, she guests on the powerful modern-day hymn, “A Bridge.” Tell me about your friendship with her and how that relationship dynamic came about.

Blanca and Ricardo

Blanca and Ricardo perform together at the Taste + See recording in May

Ricardo: [My wife and I] were serving at a church in San Antonio, Texas, and we were called by one of the producers of the television program that they have there at the church. They asked me, “Hey, would you mind picking her and her husband up from the airport?” And I’m like, “Yeah, we’d love to do that.” We didn’t really know who they were. I googled her, and I saw who she was. She’s red hot right now. She’s doing a lot, and she’s on the road a ton, and she’s knocking it out, doing really well. What was funny is we pulled up to the airport in San Antonio, and I kid you not, they had the most bags of any artist. They should’ve had a bus pick them up! We had a huge SUV, and we almost needed a brand-new SUV because they had so much stuff. They did have their son with them, who is adorable, but they were both so kind and generous… They immediately got in the car from the airport and started talking about their son. Jennette and I have three boys, so that immediately endeared both of us to them… And then from that point, we ended up having lunch and then dinner and just staying in touch and praying for each other and just becoming friends… They came with their hearts first, leading with their hearts. I guess you could say we’re kindred spirits.

TSO: You’re really intentional about seeking out a diverse sound and diverse people to collaborate with, and that creates something that’s different than anything else out there. What drives that diversity?

Ricardo: I heard this musician, his name’s Chris Rodriguez—he’s a Nashville musician—I heard him in an interview. He was doing this record, and he’s like, “Well, doing this record, we all just came to the party as a potluck. We all brought our own dish and made a meal of it.” That’s always stuck with me. I’ve heard every motivational speaker say this to some degree: “If you can do what you want to do by yourself, you probably would’ve already done it; so you probably need a little help every once in a while.” So for me, I’m like, I could write a record, but I’ve already done that. I want to do something different. I want to do what I’ve not done before, and I want to reach those I’ve not reached before. I want to shout the name of Jesus so that ears that have never heard it would hear it… I like to keep people guessing, for sure, and I love it when people bring culture, bring ideas, bring their own scent and flavor to something. It just makes it even more creative.

TSO: I know that being a mentor to other worship leaders and congregations has been something that’s been a part of your ministry DNA for a while now. How are you training and equipping fellow worship leaders?

Ricardo Taste + See TapingRicardo: Whenever we go into a church, we always want to leave more than just a record. We want to deposit whatever we’ve learned. We’ve created this ministry called Windows 2 Worship. What we love doing is if a church is going to bring us in, we offer it to them. If they want us to do a Saturday night concert or Sunday morning worship, we say, “Well, we’d love to come in on Friday or Saturday and sit down with your team and basically have a worship seminar. We’ve ministered and written and travelled with a lot of different people in a lot of different churches in a lot of different places, and here’s just a little bit of wisdom.” We answer really practical questions that aren’t theology as much as they are practicality and walking young worship leaders through whatever trial they’re going through, as far as ministry’s concerned. We’ve led in multiple denominations, talked and worked and built teams in multiple churches. We’ve created friends all along the way.

Download Ricardo’s new album, Taste + See, here.