When it comes to music, Wesley Chapel’s Nick Coetzee does a little bit of everything.
He’s a songwriter. He’s a composer. He’s a producer. He’s a worship leader.
“I love being creative,” Coetzee said. “I love doing something different every day.”
An ear for melodies has led to a lasting 30-year career that’s taken him pretty far — literally.
Born and raised in South Africa, Coetzee’s first big break came in Australia in the early 1990s, when he was tasked with helping churches craft contemporary style music programs.
“I started getting into programming music for songwriters, and I started writing my own songs and creating my own albums,” Coetzee explained.
Opportunities followed for Coetzee while in the land Down Under.
He scored music for more than 250 episodes of an Australian television drama series called, ‘Paradise Beach.’ He used a guitar to score the five-night-a-week soap opera, which also aired in several European countries in the early 1990s.
Coetzee is modest about the TV project, though.
“It was like a low-budget ‘Baywatch,’” Coetzee said, but added, “the residuals were really good.”
Meanwhile, Coetzee wrote the halftime music for an international rugby final between South Africa and Australia in 1993, at Ballymore Stadium.
The match was significant, as it marked the first tour of a South African team to Australia since 1971, when the former was subjected to a variety of international boycotts due to its apartheid policy.
“It was a big event with 35,000 people. I was on the stage there with my band and we performed the song,” Coetzee recalled.
Coetzee started reaching into America shortly thereafter, in the mid-1990s.
He first landed in South Carolina, then Florida, orchestrating music training workshops for community churches, steering them from classical hymns and choirs to more contemporary “kind of rock band” style.
“I’ve always traveled, I’ve always recorded, and I’ve always led worship in churches. Like those three things have been constant,” Coetzee explained.
While in the States, Coetzee also wrote and composed a theme song for the RP International Vision Awards in Los Angeles, which celebrates some of the most prolific actors, directors and producers in the world.
Coetzee would go on to perform at the event for more than a decade, rubbing shoulders with the likes of Josh Groban, Phil Collins, Hans Zimmer and other celebrities.
Said Coetzee: “It was a really interesting sort of angle that I had writing songs. I became this sort of songwriter for big themes; I’ve written quite a lot of songs.”
That he has — mainly through his work with multiple Christian-based record labels.
He’s produced more than 150 contemporary Christian and worship albums, including an instrumental jazz album, Reflections, which sold over 300,000 copies worldwide.
One of his most noted works came in 1995.
That’s when he was hired to produce the first U.S. release of Darlene Zschech’s ‘Shout to the Lord,’ at the time one of the world’s top gospel songs.
Being the first person to ever produce the song for the U.S. market, Coetzee calls it his “claim to fame.”
“It’s kind of helped me get work. I mean, it’s become prestigious,” Coetzee said.
He also said of the song: “It’s been recorded probably 500 times or more by artists all around the world. ‘Shout to the Lord’ it’s kind of like (the Beatles’) ‘Let it Be’ in the world. I mean, it’s the most famous (gospel) song in the world.”
Over the years, Coetzee has gone on to work with and produce for other big names in the music industry, including Abraham Laboriel, Pedro Eustache and Genesis’ Chester Thompson.
“I’ve been involved in a lot of interesting kind of projects over the years,” he said. “Sometimes I forget all the things that I’ve done.”
However, these days, at 58 years old, Coetzee keeps a bit of a lower profile.
He does much of his work from his own recording studio, conveniently located on the second floor of his Watergrass home.
The soundproof room is equipped with all sorts of instruments, from guitars to banjos to keyboards, along with various recording hardware and software, nestled into a cozy, relaxed atmosphere.
“I don’t know if there’s many home studios like this in Wesley Chapel,” Coetzee said with a chuckle.
It’s where he goes to work on his next major project — co-writing songs for Netflix original programming, building up an action sequence or a dramatic moment.
It’s also where the South African works with local songwriters and musicians of all genres.
Developing local talent and maximizing their musical gifts, has become one of his most enjoyable initiatives.
He most recently helped record some tracks with Phase III, a Dade City-based folk band that frequently performs live shows at local hot spots like Ukulele Brand’s, Zephyrhills Brewing Company and Prime 19.
“I really love to help people that maybe have got something to say with their music,” Coetzee said. “I enjoy being able to pour into people and see their results. That’s part of who I am, is really like a coach and a mentor to see the next generation raised up.”
And, it’s something he foresees doing for years to come in the East Pasco community he and his wife have lived since 2014.
“We like Wesley Chapel,” he said. “Part of my goal is to help unlock people’s creativity. There’s a huge creative community here in Pasco.”
Published April 03, 2019