Like father, like daughter
As COVID-19 raged last March, Captain Melvin Aleman served the community through the Salvation Army’s Norwalk, Conn., food pantry program. At the end of each day, he would rush home to spend time with his family.
The coronavirus shut down many regular corps activities, so Melvin and his 13-year-old daughter, Coralys, took the opportunity to create Christian worship music together.
“Everything was on hold so that’s why we had a little more time,” Melvin says. “We did seven songs in two or three months. That’s what we did as a hobby instead of watching Netflix and going on the computer. We had time off at night and over the weekends. When you like to do something, you find the time to do it.”
The official name of the father-daughter band is Cory & Mel (Coralys and Melvin Aleman). Both sing on the tracks and Melvin plays the piano and keyboard. However, the effort really is a family affair. Melvin’s son, Kennen, helped out on the songs as a chorus voice. Melvin’s wife, Captain Celimar Aleman, is a behind-the-scenes cheerleader and promotes the group on social media.
The Alemans built a small studio in their Salvation Army quarters and began composing and recording an album of original songs using Logic Pro X production software.
“We used some recording microphones and computers, nothing fancy,” Melvin says. “The songs are very mixed and all Christian music, of course. We have different genres on the album.
“I like to create things. I like to have an idea and do an arrangement and come from nothing and just compose something that can be used for God.”
The Alemans made the songs available on several platforms, not to get rich, Melvin says, but so that family and friends could enjoy the music.
“All the music that we did was to encourage people during COVID and to share the message of God,” Melvin said. “Some of the songs related to the way we live as Christians and how we live by the Bible. Some others were just to get people connected to God in a worship sense.”
The songs, some of which are being used in the Salvation Army’s South American territories, are titled “Vengo Cantando,” “Perdoname,” “Asi Vivimos,” “Back to You,” “Confio en Ti,” “Como Nunca Imagine,” and “En el Cielo se Oye.”
Each song includes lyrics that glorify God and His greatness, grace, and forgiveness. Others encourage the return to God when things fail, urge people to worship with happiness and joy, and inspire trust in God when things get tough.
The song “Asi Vivimos” (So we live) is about beholding God and thinking differently than unbelievers. Some of the lyrics include:
We live our lives, looking above
Living different than the majority
We follow the book accurately
Although we are not perfect, faith sustains us
There are many ways, and many opinions
The same as usual, interpretations
Sometimes people come, sometimes they go
Following mirages that get them nowhere
Pleasures and objects, that don’t last very long
Their dark minds cannot think right
They are trapped, thinking they are free
Looking always down, they are lost
Cory & Mel also recorded a Spanish version of “The Blessing” accompanied by Salvation Army singers.
“The first Facebook post of that song had more than 15,000 views,” Melvin said.
All about the gospel
Joining Cory & Mel on the video from remote locations are Luis and Mykaella Ortiz, soldiers at the Hartford, Conn., Citadel; Flory Santiago, a soldier at the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Guayama, P.R.; and Captain Leilanie Alarcon of the Beacon, N.Y., Corps.
Melvin believes music is a powerful method to reach people with the gospel message.
“Music is compelling to people,” he said. “I don’t know if it’s just me, but at least in my experience, music is something that I just feel in a different way that sticks to me. Music kind of touches people differently. It’s something that can touch different parts of them that might not be sensitive to just spoken words.”
Since Melvin was five, he has had a love for music. As a young boy in Puerto Rico, he sang in local churches as well as listened to Kenny G and other musicians.
“My dad took me to church just to sing,” he recalls. “People invited me to sing in different churches.”
As a young man, he was a musician and played in bands.
“I’ve always been inclined to record,” Melvin says. “Before coming to The Salvation Army, I helped some people do small commercials, soundtracks, and arrangements for songs and things like that. It’s something I like to do.”
Melvin and Celimar attended other churches in Puerto Rico before finding The Salvation Army, but God gave them a desire for something more.
“We felt the need to do something else for God and we were looking for opportunities to do missionary work,” he said.
Celimar knew someone in The Salvation Army and the family began attending the San Juan Central Corps. They have now been officers for nine years and their first appointment was to open the Ray & Joan Kroc Corps Community Center in Guayama.
During Hurricane Maria in 2017, the family served at the corps in Bayamon. They later served in Ansonia, Conn.
Today in Norwalk, Conn., Melvin and his daughter help lead worship at the mostly Hispanic corps. Melvin encourages his daughter to keep singing as Cory & Mel may lead to a full-fledged ministry opportunity.
“Right now, we’re working on a few more tracks,” Melvin says. “We’ll see where it goes. I’m just doing it out of love because I like the music and to compose and things like that. It’s just something to bless people and kind of a legacy thing for a father and daughter.”
by Robert Mitchell
You can find the music of Cory & Mel on iTunes, Spotify, and YouTube.