By Dan Wooding
Founder of ASSIST Ministries
LOS ANGELES (ANS) — The Katinas have come a long way from playing in their father’s church in American Samoa, a beautiful unincorporated territory of the United States located in the South Pacific Ocean, to performing before 30,000 people at Dodger Stadium on Sept. 8, on the first night of Greg Laurie’s Harvest LA outreach.
And what makes this Dove Award-winning Christian group so unique is that in today’s ever-changing music industry where bands arrive and then disappear into obscurity at a veritable breakneck pace, The Katinas have not only managed to roll with the changes, but they’ve done so with their original lineup intact for 21 years now.
Undaunted by trends and the changing tides of the online music revolution, The Katinas, who recently released their 10th English language studio album, Collage, is composed of brothers John (vocals), Jesse (vocals), Sam (keyboards), James (bass) and Joe (drums) have continued to write and perform on their own terms-and love every minute of it.
I caught up with some of The Katinas, who have 17 children between them, at the iconic Dodger Stadium in Los Angeles, just minutes before they went on stage to share the Gospel message through their diverse catalog of songs, and was able to glean a little of their story
Their drummer Joe Katina told me that they have played at many of Greg Laurie’s Harvest Crusades, and the first one was at The Spectrum, an indoor stadium in Philadelphia way back in 1996.
On recalling that night, he said, “I just remember a massive amount of people there and being nervous as we played in front of that large crowd and then I also remember Pastor Greg getting up there and sharing the Word of God and so many people responding to receive Jesus that night.”
Was it the largest crowd you had played before at that time?
“I’m not sure if it was because we also had the opportunity to play at a few Billy Graham crusades so but it was definitely one of the bigger ones,” said Joe.
I then spoke with Sam, the keyboard player, and asked him to share about how the band got started.
“We’re all brothers and we started the band in our home in Oceanside, California, where we were then living, but then in 1978, mom and dad went back and planted a church in American Samoa and we became our dad’s praise and worship band.
“And here we are some 21 years later, still loving every opportunity that God opens up for us.
John Katina, one of the band’s vocalists, then joined in the conversation and so I asked him what it was like to sing before such huge crowds.
“Man it’s always a humbling experience,” he began, “but also we just we take it as an honor because I remember being in the small island of American Samoa and we would have these dreams as little boys that someday we would sing for people of all nationalities, and different age groups, and here we get to do that in a venue like Dodger Stadium.
“So it never gets old for us and we’re just grateful for every opportunity.”
I then asked John what it was like for him when he saw so many people responding to invitation at the end of a crusade meeting to give their lives to Christ.
“We rejoice with the angels and we know that not only is there a party going on in heaven, but we often think back to the story of our dad when he came back from the Vietnam war,” he said. “He was an alcoholic and miraculously God transformed him from alcoholism and a lifestyle of abuse.
“So when we see the masses of people, like we anticipate tonight coming forward tonight, we think about our dad’s conversion and again it’s just another opportunity to rejoice.”
What happened to him and is he still alive?
“Oh yes,” said John. “After he got saved, we moved to American Samoa and he planted a church there and he’s still pastoring that church called Miracle Assembly of God, after almost thirty-five years and it is still going strong.”
I then asked Joe Katina how he would describe their music style, and he replied, “Our music is really a collage of different styles. We like to say we sing Rock and Soul as we grew up on R&B. We love harmonies and we love the old school music. So you know we try our best to reach people from all age groups and from all demographics of life. So it’s an eclectic style of music.”
I then asked Sam Katina if the band writes all their own music and he said, “Yes, we write a lot of our own songs, but we also collaborate with other writers outside of the group and then love doing praise and worship and we sing a lot of other people’s songs as well.”
I concluded the interview by asking John Katina how people can pray for the band and he replied, “We ask that people pray that we would stay faithful husbands and great dads to our children — you know that’s our first calling. But also pray that we would be sensitive to what God wants to say through us through our music and as we speak and just pray for our families. Pray for our kids there are seventeen kids between the five of us. So just pray for our families we know that balance of ministry but also our first calling to our families as well.”
With that the three members of the band were off to opening up the proceedings for Greg Laurie and also play as thousands streamed forward onto the turf at Dodger Stadium on that first night.
So for The Katinas, they were able to be a part in another great harvest of souls for God’s Kingdom, and they plan to continue to do this as they serve the Lord thousands of miles away from their homes in American Samoa.
To find out more about the band, please go to: