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Katie Camario

Tampa Musician to Perform at World Youth Day

July 28, 2023 | After a global collaboration, spanning multiple continents and time zones, Shevin McCullough, a Tampa-based Catholic recording artist and an Australian priest, Father Rob Galea will debut their new song and accompanying music video at World Youth Day in Lisbon, Portugal.

“He’s religious, I'm laity, but we're both on fire for Jesus and we both want to use our art to glorify Christ, to strengthen someone's relationship with Jesus,” said McCullough, who is also co-founder of Studio 3:16 in Tampa, which provides resources to Catholic schools and parishes to help young people have a deeper, more personal relationship with Christ through the Gospels. 

Their new song is titled Emmanuel Forever, a reference to Jesus, who is "God with us,” especially in the Eucharist. The song can be described as a blend of hip hop, R&B, and contemporary. An accompanying music video, filmed in part at Sacred Heart Parish in Tampa, depicts the story of a boy and his dad, representing God the Father, watching over us through times of trial and triumphs.

“Sometimes if things don't go to our plan or liking or schedule, we can get discouraged because that's not what we planned or expected. But God is always watching and always listening, always consoling, always waiting, always wanting us to encounter Him,” said McCullough.

The song stresses humanity's need for a savior and God's extraordinary mercy.

"Emanuel Forever is a straight-up worship song," said McCullough. "God's love and mercy are infinite. He’s completely available to us, waiting for us to encounter Him.”

The song's inspiration comes from McCulloughs own prayer life and faith journey. He grew up with minimal religious experiences and avoided church for many years.  He attended a Protestant church in his 20s but remained uncommitted to faith.

The turning point came when McCullough had a dream where he received an invitation from the Virgin Mary to embrace the Catholic faith. 

"At that point of invitation, I felt weightless... an unbroken, indescribable peace, like this sense of fulfillment, that sense of belonging," he explained.

"God is calling me home to the Catholic Church and he just sent his mother to greet me at the front door," McCullough recalled.

Following that invitation, McCullough received the Sacraments of Initiation and became Catholic in 2009. He says Mary's intercession has continued to transform his life, leading him to pray the Rosary daily.

The song Emmanuel Forever will be performed live for the first time on August 4, 2023, at World Youth Day on the Central Stage in Lisbon, Portugal in the presence of Pope Francis.  Studio 3:16 will release the song on Spotify, YouTube, and Apple Music that same day. World Youth Day (WYD) is a gathering of young people from all over the world with the Pope. It is also a pilgrimage, a celebration of youth, an expression of the universal Catholic Church and an intense moment of evangelization for the young Church.

The Diocese of St. Petersburg is sending one of the largest U.S. delegations, with 118 pilgrims going to World Youth Day, August 1-6, 2023. You can follow the along their journey through the diocesan social media pages at:

Facebook: @DioStPete
Instagram:  @DioStPete | @DOSPYoungChurch 

Behind the scenes photo of Shevin McCullough during the filming of the music video for Emmanuel Forever at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa. Courtesy Photo
Behind the scenes photo of Shevin McCullough during the filming of the music video for Emmanuel Forever at Sacred Heart Catholic Church in Tampa. Courtesy Photo