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History

ROMANS was established as an organized and recognizable apostolate in the Cincinnati, Ohio area in July 1996 by four enthusiastic young Catholic men (Rick Crone, Mark Hingsbergen, Greg Schutte, and Jeff Schutte). All four men were baptized and brought up in the Church by loving and dedicated parents. Their paths in life, however, took many directions before coming together as musicians dedicated to serving God and calling others into and back to the Catholic Faith. ROMANS was created out of a deep love for the Catholic Church, its music, and its Liturgy.

Three of the four original members (Jeff, Mark, and Rick) had since 1983 been members of a part-time professional band playing mainstream dance music for the wedding reception and private party market. They had been building and refining their musical talents as well as developing a sense for what musical concepts have broad appeal, and gradually felt the call of the Holy Spirit to direct these skills toward a greater purpose. Their many years together had enabled them to perform as a unit and have given them a unique sensibility for contemporary music.

The fourth original member (Greg) has had a liturgical focus in his music since 1983. Greg refined his vocal and acoustic guitar abilities during this time, and developed a confident and reverent liturgical presence by assisting at hundreds of Masses. His specialty was providing liturgically correct music for wedding ceremonies, in keeping with diocesan directives. Greg has also directed choirs and performed in Catholic theater, and has written numerous songs as well as a musical based Christ's Passion.

Since Greg and Jeff are brothers, the four members of ROMANS had much interaction during these years. Many times Jeff, Rick, and Mark found themselves accompanying Greg at a wedding ceremony then playing the reception afterward as part of a "wedding package" arrangement. These presentations led to requests to provide music at Sunday Masses and other functions such as pro-life banquets. The natural outgrowth of these events was a more organized and established entity, and thus ROMANS was born.

ROMANS' primary focus is the presentation of popular Catholic music with contemporary orchestration, a dynamic yet reverent style, and an underlying orthodoxy that expresses a deep love for the Catholic faith. Concerts and recordings include well-known Catholic songs and hymns as well as new music, presented for both active prayer participation and recreational listening. Since its inception, the members of ROMANS have been diligently recording and writing music, performing live, studying the Catholic Faith, and developing a deeper prayer life while maintaining their primary roles as heads of families. They have provided music for 10,000 men at the Cincinnati Catholic Men's Conference for five consecutive years, and have played a number of concerts including Catholic Musicfest '98 and '99. The group's first project, "Come to Life", was released in September 1998 and received an overwhelmingly positive response from the faithful, prompting a "tour" of local parishes and the start of a second recording.

ROMANS' major musical strength lies in its arrangements, to which all members contribute. Though their musical skills are strong and their vocal abilities are quite solid, they do not adopt a "virtuoso" approach to performing and recording. And while there are solo voices and instruments where appropriate, ROMANS exhibits a distinct preference for the synergy of vocal harmonies and compelling orchestration. Their trademark a capela break at the climax of a song is evidence of their team approach to arranging as well as a reminder of the Church's deep roots in choral music and chant. In 2003, ROMANS said goodbye to Rick Crone, whose powerful voice and keyboard skills helped to shape the "ROMANS sound" causing the group to put live performances temporarily on hold. In 2004 the group welcomed Jerry Byrd, who brought a youthful enthusiasm to the band as well as remarkable vocal and keyboard abilities. Jerry did a fantastic job filling some very big shoes.

In 2005 Mike Kompar joined the lineup, bringing his vocal talents and many years of bass guitar experience. In September 2005 ROMANS released "High Fidelity" after nearly 6 years in the making and in the spring of 2006, returned to live performing with an appearance at the Cincinnati Catholic Men's Conference. The end of 2006 brought yet another new chapter in the life of the group as they bid farewell to Jerry Byrd. Following his desire to pursue a higher calling, Jerry entered St. Meinrad Seminary, where he is presently studying for the priesthood. The sadness of his departure is equaled only by the joy of his vocation!

Faced with yet another challenge, ROMANS has again been remade. Erin Hingsbergen, daughter of Mark, who was only 5 years old when the band formed, has ably stepped in to cover keyboard duties. With a focus on faithfully rendering the performances established and recorded by her predecessors, Erin has enabled the band to re-capture the "ROMANS sound" in live performances. In the spring of 2007 ROMANS returned once again to provide music for a week-long Lenten mission in West Milton, Ohio led by Fr. Pablo Straub. Among their most successful outings ever, this performance has set the stage for a major re-emergence of this resilient band.

Boldly looking ahead, ROMANS is working hard to be the first name that comes to mind for those seeking quality live music for any Catholic event. By expanding their repertoire to include more originals, some well-known Contemporary Christian selections and a few "just for fun" songs, ROMANS is re-energizing its live performance and widening its focus. Through the message of music, ROMANS seeks to inspire all Catholics to a deeper love for Christ and a more zealous appreciation of their Catholic Faith.

The members of ROMANS humbly acknowledge the many gifts that God has given them as well as their many shortcomings. They seek to glorify God by proving once again that God can make use of ordinary men to do extraordinary things.

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