By Sarah Whitman
Senior Staff Writer
Julianna Zobrist, Christian recording star and wife of Rays baseball player Ben Zobrist, will perform at Praise & Worship Extravaganza, a fundraiser to benefit Oasis pregnancy center in Land O’ Lakes. The event begins at 6 p.m. April 24 at Myrtle Lake Baptist Church, 2017 Reigler Road.
Oasis offers counseling and support services to women who are pregnant or think they may be pregnant.
“I love what Oasis is doing,” Zobrist said. “It’s phenomenal how they are reaching out to help so many women. I am happy to help raise awareness about the cause.”
Zobrist grew up in Iowa where, as a pastor’s daughter, she fell in love with Christian music at a young age. Her debut album, “The Tree” is a mix of contemporary Christian and techno-dance tracks. She wrote or co-wrote all of the songs. The lyrics are rooted in traditional Biblical scripture while the music maintains a modern sound.
“I’m going to sing one song from the album and one song I just wrote at the fundraiser,” Zobrist said. “They are both slower, more move and groove style.”
Before Zobrist takes center stage, a choir made up of 200 singers from throughout the Tampa Bay area will perform. Martha Threadgill, pianist for the Florida Baptist’s Woman’s Choir, will direct the group.
“It’s going to be a fun night,” Threadgill said. “We’re going to sing one or two hymns and some contemporary Christian. We are excited to have Julianna performing as well. She is very talented.”
Zobrist loves performing but said a busy schedule prevents her from touring full-time. She divides her time between Nashville and Tampa, where she and Ben live during baseball season. Ben uses his wife’s title-track “The Tree” when he steps up to bat at home games.
The couple has a 1-year-old son, Zion, who travels with his parents wherever they go. Last baseball season, Zobrist coordinated her concert schedule with her husband’s games to make certain the family would be together.
“I am a wife and mother first,” Zobrist said.
Zobrist said, being a mom, she understands the need for a place like Oasis.
“I understand now more than I ever did,” she said. “I can’t imagine going through a pregnancy by myself without the support of my husband and family. Women in that situation need to know there are people out there who will show them compassion.”
Myrtle Lake church member Sandra Porter understands the pain of handling an unexpected pregnancy. She had an abortion 26 years ago and is now a volunteer at Oasis, helping women understand they have other options.
“I still agonized over that choice even though there was no one to help me see there was another option,” she said. “That agony of 25 years was taken away last year as a result of me seeing that God’s plan for me was to help with crisis pregnancies.”
Porter began organizing the Praise & Worship Extravaganza months ago and hopes the event will help spread awareness about what she considers an invaluable cause. She sought out Zobrist to headline because she respects the singer’s values and thinks the music will attract a large crowd.
“We are hoping to fill the church with people,” Porter said.
Zobrist said music has the power to bring people together and make a difference in the world.
“Music reaches beyond barriers to people of all cultures, backgrounds and religions,” she said. “It has the capacity to reach anybody.”
Admission to Praise & Worship Extravaganza is free. A love offering for Oasis will be taken. For information, call (813) 406-4965.