ROMANS was established as an organized and recognizable apostolate in the Cincinnati, Ohio area in July 1996 by four enthusiastic young Catholic men (Rick Crone, Mark Hingsbergen, Greg Schutte, and Jeff Schutte). All four men were baptized and brought up in the Church by loving and dedicated parents. Their paths in life, however, took many directions before coming together as musicians dedicated to serving God and calling others deeper into, or back to the Catholic Faith. ROMANS was created out of a deep love for the Catholic Church, its music, and its Liturgy.
Three of the four original members (Jeff, Mark, and Rick) had since 1983 been members of a part-time professional band playing mainstream dance music for the wedding reception and private party market. They had been building and refining their musical talents as well as developing a sense for what musical concepts have broad appeal, and gradually felt the call of the Holy Spirit to direct these skills toward a greater purpose. Their many years together had enabled them to perform as a unit and have given them a unique sensibility for contemporary music.
The fourth original member (Greg) had more of a recreational and liturgical focus in his music since 1983. Greg refined his vocal and acoustic guitar abilities during this time, especially through his college years, and developed a confident and reverent liturgical presence by assisting at hundreds of Masses. His specialty was providing beautiful and liturgically correct music for wedding ceremonies. Greg has also directed choirs and performed in Catholic theater, and had written numerous songs as well as a musical based Christ's Passion.
Since Greg and Jeff are brothers, the four members of ROMANS had much interaction during these years. Many times Jeff, Rick, and Mark found themselves accompanying Greg at a wedding ceremony, then playing the reception afterward as part of a "wedding package" arrangement. These presentations led to requests to provide music at Sunday Masses and other functions such as pro-life banquets. The natural outgrowth of these events was a more organized and established entity, and thus ROMANS was born.
In the beginning, ROMANS' primary focus was taking familiar music from the Mass and presenting it with contemporary orchestration, a dynamic yet reverent style, and an underlying orthodoxy that expressed a deep love for the Catholic faith. The group's first project, "Come to Life", was released in September 1998 and received an overwhelmingly positive response from the faithful, prompting a "tour" of local parishes and the start of their second recording project “High Fidelity.”
ROMANS has been blessed with many performance opportunities through the years, including Catholic conferences, concerts, and music festivals, and their recordings have been enjoyed and purchased worldwide. Their concerts and recordings have included well-known Catholic and evangelical selections as well as original compositions, all presented for both active prayer participation and recreational listening.
In 2003, ROMANS said goodbye to Rick Crone, whose powerful voice and keyboard skills helped to shape the "ROMANS sound", causing the group to put live performances temporarily on hold. In 2004 the group welcomed Jerry Byrd, who brought a youthful enthusiasm to the band as well as remarkable vocal and keyboard abilities. Jerry did a fantastic job filling some very big shoes.
In 2005 Mike Kompar joined the lineup, bringing his vocal talents and many years of bass guitar experience. In September 2005, ROMANS released "High Fidelity" after nearly 6 years in the making, and in the spring of 2006, returned to live performing with an appearance at the Cincinnati Catholic Men's Conference at historic Music Hall. The end of 2006 brought yet another new chapter in the life of the group as they bid farewell to Jerry Byrd. Following his desire to pursue a higher calling, Jerry entered St. Meinrad Seminary, and ultimately became a faithful priest. The sadness of his departure was eclipsed by the joy of his vocation!
Faced with yet another challenge, ROMANS was again remade. Mark's daughter Erin Orians, who was only 5 years old when the band formed, ably stepped in to cover keyboard duties. With a focus on faithfully rendering the performances established and recorded by her predecessors, Erin enabled the band to re-capture the "ROMANS sound" in live performances. In the spring of 2007, ROMANS returned once again to provide music for a week-long Lenten mission in West Milton, Ohio led by Fr. Pablo Straub. Among their most successful outings ever, this performance set the stage for another major re-emergence of the band.
The next seven years focused on concerts at parishes in the greater Cincinnati and Dayton areas, along with the release of several new original ROMANS compositions. The band also established a social media presence and adopted digital music distribution to meet the changing needs of their listeners. By 2014, however, circumstances that included a family health crisis led to a gradual slowdown of ROMANS activity. In July 2016, almost 20 years to the day since its first performance using the ROMANS name, the band performed live one last time at St. Patrick’s Church in London, Ohio.
Following that final concert, Erin left the group to focus on her new family. This brought Greg, Mark, and Jeff to a crossroad with their music. Questioning the future of ROMANS as a relevant group, they redirected much of their time and attention to helping their children mature and move on to fulfill their own vocations, which include a growing number of new ROMANS family members.
During their hiatus, the remaining three original members continued efforts in the studio on personal and group projects as time allowed. Through this period, the Lord presented all three with a twofold opportunity: first, time to develop much deeper, personal spiritual introspection, along with a clearer understanding of the crisis of faith currently plaguing the Church. Second, an arsenal of new songs, opening up a whole new direction for the band. This movement of grace has excited and impelled the three to remake the group once again and re-emerge with vigor and a renewed vision. In the absence of live performances, the band is now relying primarily on tried-and-true word of mouth, as well as digital and social media, for listener outreach.
Looking ahead, ROMANS is fine tuning its focus on boldly defending and proclaiming the Catholic faith through its ministry, and is working hard to become the “first name” in contemporary Catholic music. ROMANS' desire is to be a musical force on the front line of our worldly spiritual battle, fighting to inspire a resurgence of faith in the Church, our nation, and the world. ROMANS' music is calling Catholics to a deeper love for Christ and a more zealous understanding of, and appreciation for their Catholic Faith, while offering to pique the curiosity of anyone outside the Faith to give new consideration to the fullness of Truth that can only be found in the One, Holy, Catholic, and Apostolic Church.
The members of ROMANS humbly acknowledge the many gifts that God has given them as well as their many shortcomings. They seek to glorify God by proving once again that God can make use of ordinary men to do extraordinary things.