Singing for salvation

Music can touch hearts, raise spirits and make connections between people. Valley residents will have a chance Nov. 4 to connect with musician Leon Patillo at a benefit concert for Network Ministries.

Network Ministries is an Eastside nonprofit organization that assists local homeless families with children to find housing and jobs. The group helps with housing, food, furniture, clothing, mentoring, life skills and other basic needs, focusing on one family at a time. Patillo is a singer-songwriter known for his work with Carlos Santana in the 1970s and for his solo Christian music career in the decades since.

Salli DeBoer, the organization's executive director and founder, is a longtime fan of Patillo. She contacted him to see if he would be interested in helping the group with a fund-raiser.

"We don't do many of these but every once in a while, we get one that touches our hearts," Patillo said.

He said he was touched by the organization's mission to aid homeless families and hopes that his concert will be able to raise money to help the mission succeed. The concert will be at Snoqualmie Valley Alliance Church, 36017 S.E. Fish Hatchery Road, Fall City, a smaller venue than Patillo usually fills.

Patillo, 59, said the smaller, more intimate setting will give him the opportunity as a performer to be more expressive.

"It kind of brings out a lot more," he said. Between songs, Patillo will talk about his life and personal struggles.

While performing with Santana, Patillo received Christ through the brother of a friend and soon found he wanted to express his newfound faith more explicitly with his music. He left the band, went through a two-year Bible study course and was later ordained. He released his first solo Christian album, "Dance Children Dance," in 1979 and has since recorded 20 albums. His latest, "Re-entry," is due for release soon.

On it he collaborates with his son Noel Patillo, aka Da Noc, 33, a San Francisco rapper.

"Music is a common denominator," Patillo said. It connects people of all ages and helps creates bonds. Working with his son on music helped them to forge a better relationship, Patillo said. Together, father and son hope to build a musical bridge between generations, fostering the kind of connection they rekindled in the studio.

When his son was growing up, Patillo was often on tour. Now, years later, they are reconnecting. Patillo, pastor of The Rock House Church in Long Beach, Calif., recently ordained his son, who is a rapper and motivational speaker.

The music, which blends Patillo's mix of dance, rhythm and blues, soul and gospel music with his son's rap, bridges generations.

"It's interweaving old school traditional with the new," Patillo said.

Patillo sang a few bars of "Amazing Grace" with his silky smooth voice to illustrate his point and described how his son adds a layer of rap, interweaving the two styles in a finger-snapping way.

Father and son will perform together in the Valley. But listeners will also be treated to classic Patillo. Though Patillo said he isn't the "biggest fund-raiser kind of guy," he hopes to fill the house and inspire people.

"There's so much need in the world," he said. "It takes individuals to come forward and help out."

Patillo has dedicated his life to inspirational music. He writes lyrics to lift burdens or extend a lifeline to people in the "quicksand of life."

He said he hopes to carry the message of a loving, merciful and forgiving God in his music and hopefully inspire people to know the love is out there.

Patillo does charity work with Koinonia Foster Homes and has helped more than 1,000 homeless children find homes. Since 1999, Patillo has performed the "Get Motivated" motivational speaking series, which has put him on stage with people like Colin Powell, George Foreman and many presidents including the Bush family, Bill Clinton, Gerald Ford and Jimmy Carter.

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