Speaking of worshipful music, I got the new CD Twilight by Shaun Groves yesterday. It's the second offering from the Texas-born, Tennessee-based musician who made a huge impression on the Christian pop music world with his 2001 debut, blending thoughtful, heartfelt lyrics with catchy melodies. I won't give a track-by-track review or anything, but suffice it to say, I dig it, and Shaun should avoid the dreaded "sophomore slump" with this new collection.
The funny thing is, he didn't set out to be a performer himself at all. He graduated from Baylor, where he studied church music and composition; his major instrument at the time was the saxophone. As he said in an interview following his debut a few years ago, one of the professors there took him aside and basically told him that the saxophone was not an instrument that was normally used to worship God (obviously not true, considering what I do on Sunday mornings; see above). So while he was there, he started working on his guitar, piano and singing, and he set off to Nashville with the idea of writing songs for other people. However, most of the people who heard his work thought that his songs were so personal, he should be performing them himself. Suddenly the "reluctant performer" had a contract with Rocketown Records, the label run by eminent Christian artist Michael W. Smith, and the rest, as they say, is history.
And there is a personal connection here: The semester before he went to Baylor, Shaun was my saxophone student at Tyler Junior College! We didn't regain contact until recently (though he probably was one of those people I would have kept up with if we all had email ten years ago), but our paths did cross again when he played a concert in Coppell in the spring. It's kind of ironic that my first former student to gain national prominence in music did so without actually playing the saxophone (there's not a lick of it on either CD, though if he ever wants some, I would drive to Nashville to play on the recording)...but still, it's great that he's becoming well-known in the field and that he's able to combine an effective ministry with great music.
For a good recent interview with Shaun, go here.