Dr. Blake Gillette
Dr. Blake Gillette attended Brigham Young University before and after
serving a mission to South Carolina but ultimately graduated from the
University of Utah. He then attended the Ohio State University for
medical school. After graduation, he completed an orthopedic surgery
residency at the Mayo Clinic and trained with world-renowned experts and
published multiple articles in joint replacement surgery and sports
medicine. He completed an additional year of specialized training in
sports medicine and arthroscopy at the Southern California Orthopedic
Institute and has published textbook chapters focusing on the shoulder.
Dr. Gillette is currently an orthopedic surgeon in Spanish Fork, UT, and
writes music on the side. As part of those musical endeavors, Blake
published his first book of primary song arrangements, I Will Be What I
Believe, in 2017 with Cedarfort. The title song from this best-selling
compilation of Primary favorites spawned a successful YouTube video with
over 7 million views and counting. A Christmas album followed in 2018
entitled JOY: Now Their King He Shall be Known along with a musical
collaboration with Holly Gardner and her book "Searching for Christmas."
He has collaborated with many other musicians and friends including the
songs "With all Your Light" (Brittney Bennett), "I Feel God's
Light"(Lori Walker), and most recently "Choose to Serve the Lord" with
Angie Killian. His most recent album in 2022 is a compilation of hymn
mash-ups and original songs entitled ZION.
This Primary music journey all started with a challenge from my wife, Kaicie, when she simply said,
"Hey, you should write a Primary song." She was the Primary chorister and I was her sleepy pianist
(I was an orthopedic surgery resident at the time). We had been a music duo in our ward for a couple
of years, and she wanted some fresh music. I had written a few EFY-style songs in high school and on
my mission, plus a couple of wedding songs for her, but I had never attempted a Primary song. I'm
usually up to a challenge so I said, "Yes!" I thought about my favorite stories of the Church: Joseph
Smith, the pioneers, the stripling warriors, Nephi, and missionaries. I decided to roll them all up
into one great song. At the time, I had also been studying one of my all-time favorite talks: "The
Challenge to Become"" by Dallin H. Oaks from the October 2000 general conference. He describes that
the gospel isn't about knowing something, but it is in fact about "becoming"" something. Then, "I
Will Be What I Believe" was born. The strange thing is that I never planned to do mash-ups necessarily.
I had been jazzing up Janice Kapp Perry's "Army of Helaman" in Primary for a while and by sheer
happenstance realized that I could sing "Army of Helaman" over the top of the chorus of "I Will Be What
I Believe." I worried that the kids wouldn't be able to sing the mash-up part without getting lost or
offbeat. However, I discovered through all of this that the kids can actually pull it off. What I came
to love about mash-ups is that the mixing of songs is both musically interesting and spiritually
enlightening. I found that, in general, this song style not only powerfully reinforces the quintessence
of the song, but it also shines fresh light on a classic song, allowing you to think about it in a
different way that enlarges the soul.
You'll notice that in most of the mash-ups, I typically use the most commonly sung verses. I do this
for a couple of reasons. First, almost all of us know the first verse to most of these songs and can
generally sing it without looking at the words. I don't want people to be burdened by trying to learn
multiple verses. I've been the choir director as well, and you always need a song that can be learned
easily and quickly. But the most important reason why I use the first verse is that I want people to
be able to sing these songs without music. I want them to feel the beauty of the words and the musical
intricacies of the mash-ups. Sometimes when singing mash-ups, you have to put the music down, close your
eyes, trust in the basic beat and your knowledge of the song, and just sing it!
Throughout this whole process, I have come to love writing Primary songs. They teach important gospel
principles in simple terms and are the backbone to many testimonies. I often think about how I was
touched by both the music and the words of many Primary songs growing up. In times of difficulty
and trial, the words of Primary songs still come to my mind and answer my heart's deepest questions.
Their messages provide solace to the soul. Moreover, I also love watching a child's face as they learn
a new song, internalize the words, and then sing this new piece of their testimony with commitment and
strength. Plus, the simple melodies are easier to write and play, which is something I appreciate since
I'm not a great sight reader myself. I hope and pray that you find joy in the music, and that we build
up a new generation of children who "become" what they believe.