Brian O'Connor Biography
Near Death vs. Christian Faith
Brian G. O'Connor grew up in the Midwest. He was introduced to Christ at the Catholic church his family attended, and he developed leadership skills and a strong work ethic on his family farm. During his childhood and adolescence, he had several close brushes with death. One incident triggered a near-death experience that guided him toward music as his calling in life. It also inspired him to compete in long-distance running events, which became a lifelong passion. Later, Brian reaffirmed his faith in Christ by becoming a born-again Christian.
Brian received college degrees in business and education, and he held positions in sales and teaching prior to establishing his own businesses. Currently, he owns and operates: rental property; Green Tree Studio, a video and audio production company; and Green Tree Christian Homes, a residential care establishment for developmentally disabled adults. Brian's numerous other activities include running, swimming, biking, playing and watching football, playing music at local church services, and, above all, composing music. His music attempts to bridge the gap between the knowledge he gained during his near-death experience and his faith as a born-again Christian. Brian ultimately hopes his music brings people closer to Christ.
Nana James Totes
After The death of her mother in Jan. 2008, Nancy received the legacy of sewing again after a 20 year break from the art.
She recieved a sewing machine from her husband David when she vowed to create a quilt for him. Although the quilt was in the planning stages, David asked her to start with small projects to become familiar with the new machine.
She made 2 homemade tote bags for grandchildren- 1 1/2 yr. old Allison and 3 yr. old Audrey. The fun and success got in her "blood". Nancy got the call from the Lord to continue her enthusiasm and talent by giving it to new beginners by teaching classes. However, the classes didn't take off. But the request to purchase her totes was astounding!
She currently sells her European Market totes and her Personal totes (2 different sizes) in 2 cities in WI. She has sent her totes to Kentucky, Michigan, and Indiana. Her 2 closest relatives are taking custom orders for her, as well.
She loves to design new color combinations and new styles. Her legacy will soon be passed to her grandchildren. That's her next goal on this earth.
Her love of color and her skill in sewing are God given talents that are obvious to all that have an interest in something "out of the ordinary and special!!
Compass Newspaper Article
Musician Believes Music is About God, Not Him
By Jeff Kurowski
Green Bay Compass, August 2007
"Be with Me," a song written and recorded by Brian O'Connor of Green Bay, is among the 23 tracks featured on "Light of the World," a 2007 compilation of contemporary Christian songs released by Hilltop Records of Hollywood, CA. Not bad for someone who has minimal musical training. "I believe I have eight hours of guitar instruction," said O'Connor. "I've had no lessons in bass, no lessons in keyboards and no lessons in drums, but I play all these instruments. It's really a calling from God. I feel the Lord is guiding me in my music. Some people roll their eyes when I tell them this, but Christ speaks to me through music. Some songs, He may give me the lyrics. Some songs, He may give me the melody."
"When I was growing up, I always had an interest in music," he added. "I always loved music. I liked to sing, but I didn't join choirs. To be honest with you, I kind of ran from it."
O'Connor, a graduate of Assumption BVM School in Pulaski, points to a near death experience in 1980 as a turning point in his life. It strengthened him spiritually and fueled his pursuit of music, he said. While he appreciates having "Be with Me" released nationally, O'Connor said notoriety is not his musical goal. "The Lord has given me very clear objectives," he said. "I want to get the music out to the world and have everyone sing it. My focus will always be on getting people to sing. Some choir directors wouldn't like me saying this, but every person in church should sing. It's the Lord's music, so go for it. It doesn't matter if you sing well or not. Now if you're going to be in a choir, that's a different story."
O'Connor has played at several churches in the diocese, including Assumption BVM, St. Bernard, Green Bay, and St. Matthew, Green Bay. He wrote a song for the dedication of St. Matthew's new church in 2003. "I'm comfortable being in front of people and singing," he said. "Friends sometimes ask me if I get nervous. I really don't. I have the confidence of Christ behind me. If I'm asked to perform my music, that's what I will do, but this isn't about me. I would rather have the choir take the song and sing it. I get some strange looks from choir directors when I suggest this. I want them to take the song and do it better. That's my dream. That's my prayer. Take the song, blow it up and go for it."
O'Connor has also shared his music at churches of other faiths. Those experiences have given him an appreciation for the Mass, he said. "I was raised a Catholic and I consider myself Catholic, but I've been to a lot of other services," he said. "I think the Catholic Mass is incredibly powerful. If Catholics go to other churches, they will see that. There is richness in the Catholic Mass. I really believe that in my soul and my heart. We have this 2,000-year history that isn't always pretty, isn't always perfect, but there is a richness in the Mass which I can pull something from each time."
Compass Article Continued
O'Connor not only allows God to guide him in his music, but also in his profession. He has a degree in business from UW-Green Bay, but two years ago changed career paths. "I take care of developmentally disabled people," he said. "When this opportunity was introduced to me, I thought to myself, 'I love the people, but no way. This is not for me.' I love what I do. Like music, it's a call from God."
O'Connor is working on "Sing for God," a songbook featuring 12 to 13 of his compositions. He plans to self-publish and then find a distributor. "The cover is going to be very radical," he joked. "It's going to have a picture of Jesus Christ on it. Today, most of the songbooks have pictures of the band or the artist."
"The music is really not about me," he said. "I feel more like a messenger. I want to get the music out to other people, so they can internalize it. If I can get one person walking out of church touched by one of my songs, that's exciting."
"The Light of the World" is available through St. Catherine Book & Gift Shop and Lighthouse Christian Books, both in Green Bay. "Be with Me" is also available for download on www.broadjam.com.
"Be with Me" Newspaper Article
By Dian Page
Green Bay Press Gazette, July 2007
Music by Green Bay songwriter Brian O'Connor has been recorded on a CD produced by Hilltop Records. The contemporary Christian song he describes as prayerful is titled Be with Me. O'Connor says his main focus is Christian music, and his goal is to get his songs sung in churches. The Sept. 11 tragedy has been an inspiration for some of his music. Songs that touch on tragedies often move people closer to God, he says. He currently has five CDs out as well as a songbook. The new CD is available at St. Catherine Book Shop in Green Bay.
Bellin Run Newspaper Article
He's Running; Friend will Ride
By Adam Wise
Green Bay Press Gazette, June 2005
When the competitors in Saturday's Bellin Run line up at the start in front of Bellin Hospital, Brian O'Connor will be doing double duty. O'Connor, owner of Green Tree Studios, an audio and video production company, will be running and pushing his friend Jed Gilson in this year's race. Even so, he hopes to finish in less than an hour. Gilson, 27, has cerebral palsy; O'Connor is his caregiver. Gilson loves being pushed around in his wheelchair outside, O'Connor said. "I push him and run with him and he just loves it," O'Connor said. "He just gets into it so much and that's the fact I like about it because he enjoys it so much."
Gilson, the son of Dick and Galenda Gilson, is an avid fan of NASCAR and loves trucks. "(Jed's parents) have been so supportive," O'Connor said. "Just wonderful people (and) so helpful."
"We got our wheelchair all oiled up," Gilson said via his Dynavox, a device that helps him communicate. "We're going to race like Jimmy Johnson races."
Bellin Run Interview
Bellin Chat: Brian O?Connor
By Adam Wise
Green Bay Press Gazette, June 2005
What got you started in distance events?
I was in a bad accident that resulted in the possibility that I might not walk. It was from that point on that I decided to get involved in running distance events.
Have there been any setbacks along the way?
I have had many of the same setbacks other runners have experienced. Because of a limited amount of training, I would push too hard at a race and get injured. I know my running friends have the same difficult time balancing family, work, and training. My best solution is to schedule in the time each week as part of my daily routine.
Why the Bellin Run?
I guess it has become a traditional thing to do in June. The weather is usually nice, and it is always good to see all the runners. Everyone is very friendly. What makes it different from many races is how many different people you can run and talk to during the race.