Jackson Greer was reading “The Last Week: What the Gospels Really Teach About Jesus' Final Days in Jerusalem,” which details the history of Holy Week, when he realized the chapters could be used as a songwriting exercise.
Each day, Greer would read one chapter of the book written by Marcus Borg and John Domonic Crossan. The following day, he would write a song. He wrote eight songs for Holy Week.
“It was tough and it was a good songwriting exercise,” said Greer, who graduated from Redondo Union High School in 2010. “I didn’t expect anything to come from it. By the end of it, I was like these songs are actually pretty good, they play together, they work really well.”
Greer added a couple instrumental pieces and developed a rock opera which makes its debut Thursday, April 18, at the Manhattan Beach Community Church, beginning at 7 p.m.
“The Last Week” will be performed in its entirety. Greer will be performing lead vocals and playing piano with a string quartet, brass players, a rock band and fellow singers.
“Whatever feelings it inspired, whatever music came up in my mind, I would create that the next day... it would not necessarily be words taking from the text, but concepts taken from the text, just whatever lingered in my mind,” said Greer of the writing process.
Greer hesitates calling his work a true rock opera, because it is not “Jesus Christ Superstar” or operatic rock like from the band Queen. Instead, he called “The Last Week” alternative music with orchestral instrumentation.
Greer said he's telling the “classic story” of Jesus Christ.
“I focus on the story because that’s what rings the most true to me,” said Greer of the story of Jesus. “It’s a remarkable story, there’s a reason it’s been told so many times. It has these things of love, hope, hate, betrayal, fear, doubt, death, life... there’s so much to draw from, so much to be inspired by... the message is pretty progressive and doesn't focus on Jesus as God.”
Greer, who now makes San Pedro his home, grew up in Redondo Beach and at MBCC. He went to the University of California, Santa Cruz before returning to the South Bay where to took over the youth program at MBCC.
The MBCC is the executive producer of “The Last Week” and has been supportive of Greer and his work on the production. The entire production of musician features volunteers.
“You are really accepted no matter what it is you believe,” said Greer of MBCC.
Greer feels “The Last Week” has relevance to what is happening in the world, including the tiny country of Brunei punishing gay men and women by stoning and how refugees are being treated globally.
“It's a story of oppression, people dealing with absolute violence and domination,” Greer said.
“The Last Week” takes place at MBCC, located at 303 S. Peck Ave. The free show takes place at 7 p.m.
For more information, visit mbccucc.org, or call (310) 372-3587.