While many signs led to the formation of Luminate, the path to where they are today wasn’t always clear. It was during the writing and recording of Luminate’s album Come Home that the band’s reason for being would become apparent.
Luminate frontman Sam Hancock (lead vocal/guitar) grew up in Washington, IN, and began leading worship at his church at 14. While Sam continued this role through high school, he also struggled with the same issues of many teens. Upon graduation, Hancock was at a crossroads of choosing business school or music school. He chose music and enrolled at the Visible School of Music in Memphis. It was there he met Dusty Jakubik (bass), who was looking for a fresh start after the group he was in fell apart after signing a major label deal.
Jakubik liked the music Hancock was writing, and while he wanted to start a band, he was wary of working with someone who still had some growing up to do. “Sam was coming out of a period of rebellion in high school,” recalls Jakubik, who decided to consult with his friend Cody Clark, a guitarist in their mutual hometown of Tyler, TX. “I already knew I wanted to work with Cody. We both shared the idea that we wanted a band that was a brotherhood. We wanted to be close and for the Lord’s hand to be in everything we did. I told Cody, ‘I don’t know about this kid, Sam, but he’s incredibly talented.’”
Luminate aims to show people that they have purpose when they think they have none.
It soon became apparent that there was no doubt they should work together. With the addition of then 17-year-old Dustin DeLong (keyboard) and Aaron Matthew (drums), who had performed with By The Tree and Kari Jobe, the pop/rock band was completed in Fall 2005. Luminate (meaning, to shine light into darkness) began non-stop touring with its first appearance at Cornerstone Festival in 2006. In 2007, the band met an A&R representative from Sparrow Records at the festival. This relationship eventually led to Luminate signing with the label in March 2009.
Yet there was distraction in the ranks as Hancock split his time between the band’s home of Tyler, TX and a relationship in Los Angeles. “The guys spent two years wondering if I was the right leader for the band, but they believed in the vision and stuck with it. I think they realized that this was part of the journey I had to walk through to be who I am today,” says Hancock.
“We were writing the song ‘Come Home’ about a relationship I was in,” says the Luminate frontman, “but the further we went with the song, the more I realized the song was not about her, but about me! I was the one that needed to ‘come home.’ I realized I was avoiding my destiny and the call on my life. I lost the original vision and was pursuing fame. A little bit of recognition and I started building my own empire under the guise that God was using me, when in actuality my light was growing dim. It was then I realized that I had to exchange my broken empire for my part in the Kingdom of God, the kingdom that will never fail.”
Hancock returned to his music partners full-force to carry out the call he received years ago, a call that isn’t so much about him, but about carrying the message of hope through song.
The songs of Come Home come from real life, including Sam’s struggles with fear and insecurity. “All my insecurities are on this record, and they are not hidden in any artistic, poetic way. I’m not a very sneaky writer,” says Hancock, “Our hope is that we’re not the only ones that deal with this stuff over and over, so we’ll share our stories to spark something in others.”
Produced by Paul Moak, Ed Cash and Ben Glover, the band’s full-length debut Come Home opens with the compelling lead radio single and title track, and continues with a set of worshipful and emotion-filled songs that draw from personal journeys of overcoming fear (“Hope Is Rising”), fighting apathy (“Innocent”) and finding hope, peace and purpose in Christ (“New Beginnings”).
The songs of Come Home express not only Luminate’s hopes for themselves, but for all people. “We have been set apart to speak something to encourage people, to tell them there is more out there than what they see in front of them,” says Cody. “One song that defines the band is ‘New Beginnings.’ We want everyone to be what God intends for them to be. We want to encourage people to seek out what they’re individually set out for, what God has in mind for them. Redemption is our biggest theme. Everything comes back to God. In Him is where you find new beginnings.”
“We all have a purpose and destiny in the kingdom of God,” adds Sam. “We have to choose to be a part of it. And we want everyone to be a part of it.”