Born and raised in El Campo, Texas, Sydney Escamilla came from a life of hardship to, what he believes to be, a life of calling. His debut album, “Set Free”, is a work of faith and believed to be a calling from God. When I first learned of his album and heard his sound, I could not wait to talk to him about it. Sydney was willing to talk to me about his debut album, but first, he had something he believed just as or even more important to share with me for the sake of others who might benefit from it.
Sydney grew up humble and was born into a tough world. His world consisted of much dysfunction. It consisted of violence all around him and various abuses, physical, emotional, verbal, and drug abuse. One day, while enduring this world of drugs and violence, a youth pastor came to the Baptist church where Sydney attended and took an interest in him.
From talking with the new pastor, Sydney began to develop a new view on his home life. He had grown up with the mindset that all the violence, abuse, drugs, alcohol, and other negatives were a part of a normal home life. By talking to the new pastor and becoming more involved in the church, he began to see the changes that needed to happen.
In the 8th grade, he attended an Impact Youth Camp in Longview, Texas where the gospel was presented. After the camp, he began diving into the word and into Christian music. It was then that he realized true love with God. Sydney realized that he wanted that God that changed lives, that had changed Saul to Paul. He devoted himself to it and wanted to see his dad and family change by experiencing that same love.
For as long as he could remember, Sydney’s dad was just a man named dad and not a father figure. He wanted his relationship with his dad to change. More than that, he wanted his dad to come to know the true love of God. After a full year of devoted prayer, the change in his dad began to happen.
It started with his dad finally seeking treatment and apologizing to those he had hurt with his choices and ways. His dad was gone, in treatment, for about a year. Prior to this, there had been no closeness between he and his dad, but Sydney knew that God had a plan. After much needed time, God changed his dad’s heart and started a stronger faith within him. By the time Sydney was in high school, his dad started helping others with addiction and with their faith. He was grateful that his son never gave up on him.
In the summer of 2014, Sydney’s dad began to struggle with health issues due to past bad choices. At the time, Sydney was away at a church function. He was not aware of his dad’s health situation until he came home. He would call home to talk to him, but the health situation was kept from him. Sydney remembers taking a moment to thank his dad for all the troubles and the blessings.
On August 13th of that same summer, Sydney’s dad was rushed from the rig he worked on to the hospital and admitted . This day changed the trajectory of Sydney’s life. While at a church meeting, his dad’s organs began to fail and a virus had set in his blood. His dad would have to be transferred to another facility via life flight. Before being taken away, the doctor asked his dad if he could recognize his wife and son. He confirmed that he was able to do so. He was then life flighted out. His dad was taken to OakBend hospital in Rosenberg, Texas and remained there because he was, too, weak to be moved to the Med Center in Houston. He only had a 8% chance to live.
Sydney’s dad prayed for God to take away the pain and for God’s will to be done. Then at 4 a.m. on August 14, 2014 his dad’s prayers were answered. He received the call of his death and went home. Sydney had the dad he had prayed so hard to have for about 2-3 years.
God changed the life of Sydney’s dad. In turn, Sydney’s dad changed lives by sharing what he had been through. He was able to do this because of God. It was God’s will to intervene in his dad’s life and use his life as a ministry. His dad embraced this, and Sydney has done the same with his own life. He picked up the torch and continued to use his dad’s story as part of his ministry. His dad had always told him, “Never be ashamed of where you come from. If our struggles can help others, it’s worth it.” With that, Sydney came to understand the meaning behind Romans 8:18, that without struggles and pain, there is no ministry. He realized that hope does have a name, and His name is Jesus.
Sydney started traveling all over Texas with his testimony and music ministry. He doesn’t visualize himself as a performer. He identifies himself more as a worship leader because that is what he does. He doesn’t perform. He leads worship. He does this all over Texas. He says he was 11 years old when he felt the calling to minister. He was 14 years old when he started traveling with music. Slowly his ministry has grown. Though his stages may be small, his love for what he does is huge. He says that if God wills for him to lead worship in larger venues, then so be it. Sydney believes that you lead with your life not just on stage.
Sydney’s musical inspirations stretch across the music spectrum. He grew up on Tejano, classic rock, and country. Some names he grew up listening to include, Johnny Cash, The Beatles, and Big and Rich. He says that it all started in the shower though. That was his stadium. The first song he learned to sing was “Don’t Take the Girl” by Tim McGraw. Sydney’s Christian music influences consist of Chris Tomlin, David Crowder, and Robbie Seay. Sydney honed his songwriting skills, he says, by leaving it to God. Sydney is resolved to leave it to God and tell God, “The world needs more of you, not me”
He received his push to pursue his music ministry from his uncle Gilbert Delgado and Joel Hernandez, a musician in his own right, who challenged him to be the best of himself. So, with support from all sides, family and friends, he went to work on a project that had been in his heart to do since 2014. In August of 2016, he started working on the “Set Free” album. It’s an acoustic album that was recorded in one late night session at Jo’s Downtown located in downtown Mount Pleasant, Texas (josdpwntown.com).
The first obstacle to recording the album was the financial portion of the project. He would have to meet a budget at least $8,000. Family and friends invested in him, for which he was/is entirely grateful, but he wanted the album to be a show of God. So he went to KickStarter.com, which is a site that helps people raise money for various projects. For Sydney, the project would then be a project of the people’s doing. He wanted them to have a hand in the project. “This album is as much the project of those who gave money and/or prayers as it is mine.” Sydney is very proud of this fact.
Sydney has surrounded himself with a talented team. His visionary and executive producer is Mr. AJ Guel, an amazing singer/songwriter of whom I am a big fan (@ajguel “Real No One”). Rafael Hernandez and Raul Leal have shown Sydney the ropes of putting it all together. The business aspect of the project has been headed up by Scott Burks. He’s handled the cover art of the album and the logistics of it all, putting it on iTunes and Spotify.
The album is due to release on July 28, 2017, only a few days away. To say that Sydney is excited is very much an understatement, but he will take no glory or praise for himself. This young man, who didn’t even want his name on the album, gives all glory and praise to God, which is as it should be.
You can help celebrate the release of “Set Free” on Sunday, July 30, 2017 at 6 p.m. at the First Baptist Church in El Campo, Texas. It is the album’s release worship night, and the entire community is invited to attend.