Give us a bit of background. Where are you from? How did you discover music and what was your path to leading worship?
I was born and raised in Baton Rouge, LA where I spent the first 24 years of my life. It was there that I met the Lord and was led to know Him more by the faithful pastors, teachers, family, and friends around me. From early on, I was involved in music in some capacity whether it was playing drums or singing in a children's choir. It wasn't until my time in college at LSU that I was given the opportunity to step out and lead worship.
God was truly gracious to me during that time by placing a few gifted worship leaders around me who poured into me, allowed me to fail, and showed me what it is to lead people in worshipping the only One who is worthy. The Lord began to open doors for me to devote my life to this calling. Now, my beautiful wife, Becca, and I call Birmingham, AL home where we are continually being shaped, challenged, and always learning about the heart of the Father.
Have you always considered yourself a songwriter?
Songwriting was never something that was present in my life. It was only recently in the past couple of years that the Lord began to birth in me the desire to create in this capacity. The idea of writing music and releasing it to the wild was an extremely intimidating endeavor. Honestly, this kept me from stepping into writing until God began to open up some safe spaces for me to not only make an attempt at it but to share songs that the Lord was leading me to.
What was the inspiration behind We Will Dwell?
This song is just a simple prayer that was pieced together by what I was seeing around me in my community, my family, and my church.
Much of the conversations taking place, more often than not, was centered around the tension of knowing that Jesus is making all things new yet there is still so much loss, sickness, brokenness, struggle, and tragedy. Through this, so much of the prayers offered in these dark moments with the hurting people in my life came down to asking the Good Shepherd to lift our eyes from the current circumstances and to remind us that the day is coming when we will sing in His courts with thanksgiving and we will dwell in the Shadow of the Almighty. In a reminder that God is at work restoring His creation, there is not only hope, but deep rest found in this truth.
During the process, the Lord brought my eyes to two familiar yet profound psalms - 46 and 91. The language of the Psalmist gripped me as you could feel the weight of His circumstances, seeing death, decay, and seemingly watching mountains fall into the ocean, yet trusting all the more that God keeps His promises. These passages pushed me to pray and write with an honesty of the present and an authentic hope for the future.
Sonically the song is very rich but has minimal instrumentation. How do you approach arranging a new song? Was there anything unique about this song?
This song took a while to put together. There were more drafts than I care to admit, and it actually started with trying to say too much. Originally, the feedback for this song was that it needed to be simplified. There was too much being addressed, there were too many different phrases throwing off the natural flow of the song, and the chord structure needed to be toned down a good bit. It was chunky in nature and it didn't seem to gel together.
In hindsight, this makes perfect sense, as I am truly a simple person by nature. I am quickly learning that my best writing comes when I am honest and simple throughout the process. Once this song went through several processes of being pared down, the character and heart behind it were brought out a bit more. After all, simplicity in music allows for people to sink their teeth into the truth, so my prayer is that this song will give a voice to hurting people in the midst of broken places so that they can sing with honesty and hope.
Did you already have We Will Dwell in mind when you were approached about doing a live recording with 10,000 Fathers?
As a student in 10,000 Fathers, we were asked to submit songs to possibly be recorded by video and audio. Initially, I didn't give this a second thought and avoided it. To do something like this is very out of character for me, but the Lord has been leading me and shaping me in vast ways over the past few years which includes stepping into challenge and being ok with what is uncomfortable. So when it came time to send in a song, We Will Dwell was not only fresh on the page, but it was unbelievably timely for where I was in my journey.
Much like the song, the making of the video was incredibly simple. Once I got past the initial shock of being surrounded by such competent and humble musicians, everything fell into place rather quickly. A few minor adjustments to the arrangement allowed the song to come together in a few short moments.
How Has 10,000 shaped the way you approach songwriting and worship?
10,000 Fathers has forever altered the course of my life. In this journey, God began by exposing the lies that have strangled me my entire life and He replaced them with everlasting truth. He invited me in to sit and the table, and challenged me in areas where I desperately needed growth. He stirred in me a deep passion for His Word to be the platform that I stand upon and the only song I sing. And now, I can boldly lead in places He has called me as I rest in my identity as a beloved child of God. With eyes to see who He has called me to be, I was able to step into the unknown spaces of songwriting where I can rest in knowing that my worth is not attached to the songs I write.
In this immense revelation, there was a major invitation to create in the freedom that comes from the cross of Jesus. Now, what the Lord is doing in me doesn't have to stop with me.
This invitation into songwriting has been one of the hardest things to step into, but I am forever grateful to be equipped with spiritual and physical tools to write songs that reflect the heart of my community. This journey has been so valuable, and I can't say enough to fully describe my gratitude. I have experienced the grace of God through 10,000 Fathers. The authentic hearts of these people bring true hope as the "celebrity" of the worship pastor crumbles and honesty, discipleship, and passion for the Father are stirred in God's creation.
Who are some of your influences, musical and otherwise?
My musical influences are all over the place, but a short list consists of John Mark McMillan, John Mayer, Sleeping At Last, Andrew Peterson, or anyone who can tell a story through music.
Where can we find more of your music?
Currently, I have the privilege writing and leading with a group here in Birmingham called Iron City Worship. We have an EP called "Come Lord Jesus" that was released last year, and another EP coming soon!