Pro-football player Ben Utecht of the Cincinnati Bengals released his debut Christian music album this week after years of singing in churches and at numerous college and pro-sports events.
The NFL tight end celebrated the release of his self-titled album with a concert at Montgomery Community Church in Cincinnati earlier this week and plans to hold a second release concert this Sunday in the Indianapolis area.
"It was amazing! I couldn't believe it was actually happening," Utecht reported Wednesday after his first concert. "I was really on stage pouring out my heart in music."
Though some may be skeptical about the musical abilities of a pro-football player, Utecht has wowed professionals in the Christian music industry, including CCM artist Jeremy Camp and southern gospel singer and songwriter Bill Gaither.
"Ben Utecht has been entrusted with tremendous talent, both as a professional athlete and a solo artist, and he uses those gifts for one purpose – to honor Christ," said Gaither, winner of five Grammys and 28 Dove Awards. "There is no limit to what God can do with Ben's combination of heart and talent."
"I know you'll be blessed by his music when you hear that heart displayed with such power and conviction," added Camp, who has been dubbed "Best Male Artist" for five consecutive years in Christianity Today's Readers' Choice Christian Music Awards.
Having been one of his closest friends, Camp said Utecht has greatly impacted him.
"He has a deep love for the body, a genuine passion for the kingdom," commented Camp, who co-wrote "Rescue Me" with Utecht for the album.
In addition to Camp, Utecht has worked with a few other Christian music professionals for his first album, including Nathan Nockels, who has produced albums for Chris Tomlin, Point of Grace, and downhere. Utecht also worked with CCM singer Sandi Patty, who he sings a duet with on the album.
Though his entrance into the Christian music industry may have been a surprise to many, it wasn't a surprise for the man who coached him for the four years he played on the Indianapolis Colts football team.
"Ben Utecht is a talented football player. He started at tight end for my team ... in Super Bowl XLI and helped us beat the Chicago Bears," said former Colts head coach Tony Dungy. "However, I always thought his real impact would be in Christian music.
"Ben has a tremendous voice and a passion for music, but more than that, he believes in the gospel message and that comes through when he sings. I believe God is going to use his musical gift in a special way," Dungy added.
Utecht's album contains 12 songs, parts of which can be heard on his website, www.benutecht.com.
This coming Sunday's concert will be held at Connection Pointe Christian Church in Brownsburg, Ind., less than 15 miles northwest of Indianapolis.