History/ConceptionJune 24, 2019
I (Gabriel Cannistraci) am the director of Gotta Praise Him. I’d like to give you a very brief history of some of the highlights of the journey the Lord has brought me through in regards to music ministry, leading worship, and how this ministry came to be.
Gotta Praise Him officially started on April 17th, 2018 (my 40th birthday), but it has been brewing inside of me for most of my life.
I grew up in a musical family in San Jose, California. Almost everyone on both sides of my family are musical. My father, Samson, grew up in downtown Chicago with his parents who just moved there from Italy, and his entire family of 11 lived in the back of his dad’s music store. Naturally, he, his parents, and all of his brothers and sisters played instruments and sang, as music was a very large part of their lives. My mother, Twila, grew up on a bus touring around the country with her 4 sisters, her mother, Dory, and her aunt, Jenny. They were The Singing Stairsteps, and were close friends and recording partners with some old time Gospel artists such as the late greats Audrey Mieir, and Andre Crouch.
Growing up in such a musical family, I was a part of my parents’ music ministry in some form since I was old enough to sing (about 4 years old). Music was always in the house, whether it was my mom’s 14 piece group Chosen Vision rehearsing, or the church worship team members, or just family gatherings. Not a single day went by in my life where music wasn’t being played and sang in the house. This tradition continued for me even into adulthood.
As I grew, I listened primarily to lots of jazz, gospel, and vocal groups, though I always appreciated all genres of music. To this day, the 2 biggest musical influences in my life, besides my own mother, were Matthew Ward (from 2nd Chapter of Acts), and Take 6, and I listen to the “Today’s Gospel Hits Radio” station on Pandora every day.
Fast forward many years, my mother, father, and I moved to Detroit, Michigan when I was 18 so my parents could be the music directors at a church called Evangel Christian Church. At that church, as usual, I was on my mother’s worship team, and I regularly led worship for the youth group, and some special events here and there.
A few years later, after my parents moved back to California, and I stayed to pursue the most beautiful woman on earth, inside and out, who would later become my wife and life partner, I became a member of Christ Community Church, where I was eventually blessed with the position of worship director. This was a great time of growth and maturity in ministry for me under the tutelage of Pastor Tim Tyler.
After about 9 years in that position, God moved me to Grace Christian Church, where I was given the great honor and privilege of being the band director under the leadership of Carolyn Flosky for about 6 years, after which I became the music director for a further 2 years, at which point the Lord led me back to Christ Community Church where I currently serve as music director.
Throughout all this time, I have been in many bands, both Christian and secular. There was even a point in my life when my only source of income was my secular gigging, but through all of it, I always knew the Lord had something more for me. It took the nudging of my mother to help me realize that all of the steps I had taken in my life’s musical journey was leading up to this.
On my 40th birthday, after much prayer and counsel, I officially started Gotta Praise Him. I purchased the domain name, corralled the best group of singers and musicians I had worked with in the past who all love the Lord with all their hearts, have a passion for leading God’s people in worship just like I do, and love all types of music (especially Gospel, my passion), and Gotta Praise Him was born (see the Our Vision page for more info).