Marcos Witt: Christian Superstar, Houston's Best-Kept Secret
Marcos Witt has won four Latin Grammys, written 10 books, and has more than a million fans on Facebook. Considering he's also a Houstonian, we were confused as to why we'd never heard anything about him.
After some investigative work, we discovered that his niche is obscure, one that we didn't know much about: The world of the Latin-American Christian-music industry.
While it may be obscure, it's not lacking. 14,000 people filled Lakewood Church this past Friday night for a sold-out concert commemorating Witt's 25-year musical career.
In addition to making music, Witt is also the senior pastor of Lakewood's Hispanic ministry, leading the second-largest Hispanic congregation in the United States.
Before he arrived at his post-concert breakfast Saturday at the Renaissance Hotel, Rocks Off sat around and chatted with his associates and press people, trying to use our collegiate Spanish education to the best of our ability.
When he came in, the energy of the room immediately changed and everyone got up to greet and congratulate him on the previous night before. Witt asked around about the Twitter feedback concerning his intermission haircut - apparently it was shoulder-length before he cut it all off mid-show - and then, dressed casually in a tracksuit, sat down with us.
We admitted to not knowing much about him beforehand and mentioned his extensive resume.
"I think I'm one of Houston's best-kept secrets," he says. "I fly here and fly out, and yet I don't interact a lot, other than within the Lakewood community."
Witt travels all over the world. Last year he accumulated 220,000 frequent flyer miles, but most of his business is in Latin America, where he grew up and decided to pursue music. Shortly after Witt was born, his parents moved the family to Durango, Mex., to do missionary work.
"As a young man, I wasn't sure what direction I was going to go in, but I did know that music would be a major part of whatever it was I would do," he recalls.
By the time Witt was in high school, however, he identified a way to fuse music and his faith.
"I knew I would marry music with teaching and inspiring people from the Bible," he says. "It was a natural fit for me. Ever since I was 16, I knew this was my direction in life,"
In 1986, Witt founded CanZion Producciones in Mexico and expanded his business to America a few years later. Since then, he's founded CanZion Institutes for teaching worship leaders and music ministers, establishing 80 different campuses in Latin America, Europe, and Africa. His international reach brought a vast array of different cultures to Houston this past weekend.
"I said hello to people from South America, Italy, Spain, Brazil and all over the United States," he says, "It was amazing to see the broad spectrum of people."
Although the concert was sold out, he insisted that it wasn't all about him but rather his career, accomplishments, and their effect on his community.
"It was a remembrance of 25 years since I recorded my first album, it wasn't about me. I wanted it to be about the songs and the power of music and how music affects us-it moves us and changes us. We focused the program on the songs and the impact they've had on people's lives," he says.
"A man was on stage with me last night who, 21 years ago, had a revolver in his car and was on his way to take his life because he was in a very desperate situation. When he turned the car on, my song was playing," he reflects.
"It hit him so hard that he played this song for about an hour on the side of the road and decided that he could live. 21 years later he's on stage sharing how a song saved his life. His daughter is now one of Latin America's most famous voices."
For the next 25 years of his career, Witt plans on using CanZion, his congregation at Lakewood, and the connections he's made along the way to help young Christian musical acts.
"One of the main focuses I've now embraced is to be a force to open the door for young people to get their music out and be heard," he says. "I want to be remembered as someone who helped others succeed."