Nearly 30 years ago, when church music took a bounce into contemporary rhythms, young Niles Borop couldn't get enough.
Though Presbyterian, he joined the youth choir at Millbrook Baptist Church in Aiken just to tour with the singers over the summer.
As a tribute to Millbrook, Mr. Borop, 44, invited the church's choir to record a CD and choral book of some of his best-known hits. The songwriter, who now lives in Nashville, came to Aiken to oversee the project this weekend.
The choir will perform the songs, including the Via Dolorosa, which he co-wrote with Billy Sprague, at a premiere concert at 6 p.m. Sunday, Oct. 21, at Millbrook, 176 E. Pine Log Road, Aiken.
Meta and Dr. Niles Borop Jr., the songwriter's parents, have never seen a concert of his work. They and other Aiken friends will be his guests at the hometown premiere, he said. "Millbrook will get national exposure ... and I can celebrate (my success) with some people who are very special to me."
The project will be produced and distributed by Prism, one of the biggest publishers in church music today, said the Rev. Steve Littlefield, Millbrook minister of music. Marty Handy of Chattanooga did the arrangements, and orchestral tracks were recorded separately by the Prague Symphony.
The project is titled Giving Him Praise. While the choral books will be available only through the distributor, Millbrook can take orders for CDs at $15 each or audio tapes for $10, the Rev. Littlefield said.
Sandi Patty, Steve Green, the Cathedrals, Gold City and the Nelons are among the hundreds of artists who have recorded Mr. Borop's songs. He has won numerous accolades for his work, including the 1986 Dove Song of the Year for Via Dolorosa, recorded by Ms. Patty.
He started Nashville-based Centergy Music in 1993. The early 1990s were a time when the music business was still an entrepreneurial world and Southern gospel music presented a great opportunity, Mr. Borop said. "Everyone thinks (contemporary Christian) is the thing - it is wonderful - but it is not 'the thing."'
Mr. Borop is not a performing songwriter. He can't read a note and has never gotten the hang of playing an instrument. Instead, when a new melody comes to mind, he reaches for a hand-held tape recorder.
The method frees him up to tackle any genre of music, he said. "I'm not limited by my fingers."
He likes to get someone to hear his taped song and then interpret it, he said. "It works really well."
At times the Christian songwriter contributes lyrics alone or sometimes melody and lyrics. He has collaborated with singers, musicians and other writers on some 1,300 to 1,400 songs. "Co-writing is a wonderful experience - obviously I enjoy doing it. You are 1 plus 1 equals 3, 5, or 7! You don't know what it is going to be or what the two of you will do," he said.
Some 1,100 titles of his compositions have been published - an accomplishment that generates a stream of Internet links through popular search engines. But don't expect to find one leading to a Niles Borop or Centergy home page.
Centergy will never have a Web site, said the songwriter, who also shuns e-mail, a method of communication he considers inferior to talking to someone.
"This is a people business," he said.
And "people" make Niles Borop tick.
For more information, call (803) 648-4167.
Reach Virginia Norton at (706) 823-3336 or firstname.lastname@example.org.