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Ecclesia had its roots in an earlier band from Katy, Texas, the Daystar Project. Daystar Project was founded in 1999 by Brian Foutz and Donald Bleyl, both talented song writers and arrangers. It was an innovative group that included a myriad of instruments, including horns, percussion and violin. The band originally specialized in eclectic, mostly instrumental arrangements of Christmas music, and as such performed only during the holiday season. Eventually a capable lead singer was added and Daystar Project branched out into praise and worship music, enabling the potential for performances in churches year-round. Brian’s wife Leah also joined the group as a background vocalist.
Wayne Pflughaupt joined Daystar Project as bass player in 2008, and several months later his wife Donna signed on as a background vocalist. In 2009 the lead singer left and Donna assumed lead vocal duties. The band’s long-time drummer also dropped out and a replacement was never found. Without a drummer and subsequently unable to play any shows, the other musicians lost interest and left over the next year or two. The remaining members, Brian, Leah, Donna and Wayne, carried on but eventually decided that Daystar Project’s time had passed and a new beginning was in order. Thus was Ecclesia born.
Similar to Daystar Project, Ecclesia featured a blend of original tunes and unique arrangements of cover songs and hymns, and went against the grain of popular contemporary praise and worship music with a keyboard-driven sound. Ecclesia overcame the drummer issue by using a drum machine in live performances and played together for three years before disbanding in 2014.
Brian Foutz comes from an extraordinarily talented family. “My grandfather was a music professor in Oklahoma and everyone in his family played at least one instrument. During the 1930s they were known as the Von Trapp Family of the Midwest,” Brian says.
It should come as no surprise that Brian began his musical career at a young age. “My mother started me on piano when I was four years old, and later the organ and accordion,” he recalls. “I have also played the alto, tenor and baritone saxophones, guitar, and began writing music at 15.” In addition to writing original material, Brian has a keen gift for coming up with creative and often unusual arrangements for cover songs and hymns.
Brian and his wife Leah reside near New Ulm, Texas. They have gone through some incredible changes over the years, most notably when their only child, 18-year-old daughter Victoria, was murdered by a group of young men in 2004. “God gave us an incredible peace about her passing only a few days later,” Brian says. “It was at this point that God gave me a passion for music like I had never felt or seen before.”
Brian enrolled in seminary classes and founded Hazak Ministries with Leah, and they take their message of hope for grieving parents to churches near and far. “Our ministry is about prayer, healing and to light the fire in the belly of the church for revival," Brian says. “Our Lord is returning soon, and He does not want to come back for a cold or lukewarm church. I am excited about being a vessel for revival!”
Leah Foutz has always loved to sing. “I belonged to a trio back in the early 1970s, singing Peter, Paul and Mary songs for a small coffeehouse at St. Stephen’s Episcopal Church in Houston. Since that time, my heart’s desire has been to share what Christ has done for me through music. I have prayed for many years to be able to sing for my Lord Jesus Christ in front of people. He has answered that prayer in a way that I could never have imagined."
Leah is every mindful of the friends and church family that were with them during the most trying time of their lives, when their daughter died. “Through the ministry of our friends and their families, we were comforted and lifted up. Brian and I were graced with an amazing feeling of PEACE from our Lord after Victoria’s death, a feeling that has never left us to this day. I know Whom my Redeemer is, and I will tell anyone who will listen about His grace and Salvation!”
Brian and Leah have written a book about their struggles and triumphs after their daughter’s death, From Misery to Ministry, to help other parents who have to deal with the loss of a child.
Wayne Pflughaupt comes from a long line of musicians, including a great-great-great grandfather who played violin and wrote music, and a great-great grandfather who was a regimental musician in the Confederate army. His mother was a church pianist and vocalist for over 40 years.
“I exhibited an interest in music at a very young age, even before Kindergarten,” Wayne says. “My parents liked to attend concerts with old-styled gospel quartets like the Blackwood Brothers, Happy Goodman Family and Florida Boys, and once I was old enough to sit still and behave they started taking me along. The next day I’d often end up ‘on stage’ on top of the picnic table in the back yard, singing and reliving the show from the night before.”
Wayne played drums in the school band in junior high, maintaining a virtual lock on the first-chair position all three years, and continued playing drums and percussion in band through high school. At his mother's encouragement Wayne took up the bass guitar in junior high and has been playing in church ever since, as well as with a number of Christian bands over the years. “I basically taught myself to play,” he says, by listening to music by artists such as Iron Butterfly, Chicago and Andraé Crouch and learning the bass parts by ear.
Donna Pflughaupt also exhibited talent early in life and made her first public performance at the tender age of six. "They needed someone to sing Silent Night in the school Christmas play," she recalls. “You’d think I would have been scared to death, but I remember being pretty excited about it.” Donna started playing the piano at the age of ten, and claims she frustrated her piano teacher. “Rather than take the time to learn a piece by reading the music, I’d get Mrs. Eiland to play it for me. Then I’d play it back just like she did, by ear.”
By the time she was a teenager Donna was playing and singing in church, and in junior high started singing in choir. In high school she went on to become the #10 ranked second soprano in Texas, in addition to racking up a shelf full of sight-reading and other awards in UIL competitions and singing in a number of school musicals. Donna majored in voice in college, and for most of her adult life has sung praise and worship in church. She has a heart for worship and believes that God has called her to share the gift He has given her.
Donna resides in Katy, Texas with her husband Wayne, whom she met at church when she was a high school freshman. "He was a cute bass player; I just had to get him," she says. “Our family had a little Christian singing group, and I told my father, ‘We should invite that new boy over and see if we can get him to play with us.’ Dad fell for it hook line and sinker.”
Wayne and Donna have three grown children – Sean, Ryan (both of which are talented musicians) and Michelle.
Ecclesia - Praise Him Produced by Joey Garza for Full Measure Productions Music and Lyrics: Brian Foutz Arrangement: Brian Foutz, Wayne Pflughaupt * Mixed by Joey Garza and Wayne Pflughaupt * Associate Producer, post-production audio sweetening: Wayne Pflughaupt Ecclesia is: Donna Pflughaupt – Lead and Background Vocals Leah Foutz – Background Vocals Brian Foutz – Keyboards Wayne Pflughaupt – Bass, Sampled Percussion, Sampled Guitar Guest Musicians: Neal Goates – Drums © 2014 Ecclesia Music. All rights reserved.Ecclesia 00:04:49 78 0 Downloads 0 Comments
Ecclesia - I Could Sing Of Your Love Forever Produced by Joey Garza for Full Measure Productions Music and Lyrics: Martin James Smith Arrangement: Brian Foutz, Wayne Pflughaupt, Neal Goates * Mixed by Joey Garza and Wayne Pflughaupt * Associate Producer, post-production audio sweetening: Wayne Pflughaupt Ecclesia is: Donna Pflughaupt – Lead and Background Vocals Leah Foutz – Background Vocals Brian Foutz – Keyboards Wayne Pflughaupt – Fretless Bass Guest Musicians: Neal Goates – Drums Sean Pflughaupt – GuitarEcclesia 00:04:27 69 0 Downloads 0 Comments
Ecclesia - Faithful Produced by Joey Garza for Full Measure Productions Music: Brian Foutz Lyrics: Donna Pflughaupt, Leah Foutz Arrangement: Brian Foutz * Mixed by Joey Garza and Wayne Pflughaupt * Associate Producer, post-production audio sweetening: Wayne Pflughaupt Ecclesia is: Donna Pflughaupt – Lead and Background Vocals Leah Foutz – Background Vocals Brian Foutz – Keyboards Wayne Pflughaupt – Bass, Sampled Percussion, Background Vocals Guest Musicians: Neal Goates – Drums Sean Pflughaupt – Guitar © 2014 Ecclesia Music. All rights reserved.Ecclesia 00:02:26 72 0 Downloads 0 Comments
Ecclesia - Amazing Grace / When We Dance Produced by Joey Garza for Full Measure Productions Music and Lyrics: John Newton (Public Domain) “When We Dance” Music and Lyrics: Brian Foutz Arrangement: Brian Foutz * Mixed by Joey Garza and Wayne Pflughaupt * Post-production audio sweetening by Wayne Pflughaupt Ecclesia is: Donna Pflughaupt – Lead and Background Vocals Leah Foutz – Background Vocals Brian Foutz – Keyboards Wayne Pflughaupt – Fretless Bass, Sampled Percussion Guest Musician Neal Goates – Drums © 2014 Ecclesia Music. All rights reservedEcclesia 00:05:05 60 0 Downloads 0 Comments
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